Dennis González Ataraxia Trio+2 “Nights Enter”

Nights Enter is a beautiful, cosmic ride. Dennis González and Derek Rogers have done a masterful job composing these evocative, shapeshifting pieces. Rogers’ synth and González’ trumpet are the bright foundations that begin the album’s journey, but the bass lines from Drew Phelps plus tabla and djembe from Jagath Lakpriya are the drivers. While González playfully flits and Rogers turns arpeggios into water droplets on the short and lively “The Yendi,” Lakpriya and Phelps are dialed in and really set the whole thing in motion. It’s gauzy and joyous.

Throughout Nights Enter, the combo changes things up and shifts direction, keeping the album fresh and engaging. When Jess Garland’s harp dances, dotting shimmering exclamations through “The Loop,” it’s potent. Add in González’ wistful, considered runs with the looping, processed tanpura underneath it all and the quintet gets deep into transcendent zones. Rising like golden shards through thick, overcast skies, “The Loop” takes flight. Haunted melodies flicker through the sparse “Approaching Dawn,” again giving Garland a canvas to gently coax out the first rays of sun that bloom with the hopeful progressions of the album closing title track. This three-track suite is a beautiful way to close the album.

Contemplation and rumination aren’t the only order of the day, though. “Sita” gets into otherworldly zones, this time González on trumpet and Phelps on upright bass trading jabs while Rogers builds atmospheres at the surface. Phelps really pushes into understated grooves so González can concoct layered, relaxed melodies. “Rain Storm” opens the album and is bizarre and wonderful, where elements seem to go out of sync before falling back into the slow groove. It’s a theme throughout Nights Enter that you never know what’s around the next corner or what to expect. This quintet avoids the obvious and ends up with a lovely, dramatic sound world all its own. Great stuff.

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