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the dragon and the griffin

by Dave McDonnell Group

Æthelstan 06:55
Perch 06:37
Geranium 05:44


New Atlantis Records is thrilled to announce the dragon and the griffin, the debut recording from the Dave McDonnell Group. Well documented as a sideman, this recording marks saxophonist McDonnell’s stirring first outing as a leader. This set of lyrical, polyrhythmic compositions is realized by a heavy cast of players, including New York-based guitarist Chris Welcome, and the powerhouse rhythm team of bassist Joshua Abrams, and drummer Frank Rosaly.

A veteran of Chicago’s thriving creative jazz underground, McDonnell is perhaps best known as a founder member of longstanding scene mainstay Herculaneum, a critically-acclaimed working unit with five recordings on offer via CleanFeed and 482 Music. His compositions for the group have been performed at the New York Winter Jazz Fest, and featured on NPR’s All Things Considered. His recording career began in the late 1990’s as a member of the free-ranging bablicon (alongside Neutral Milk Hotel’s Jeremy Barnes, and Griffin Rodriguez). Through bablicon, David began his association with The Elephant 6 recording company, leading to features on a number of recordings with members of the collective. David was a member of Icy Demons, fronted the synth-rock trio Michael Columbia (both of whom performed at the Pitchfork Music Festival), and performed with Philadelphia’s Need New Body.

the dragon and the griffin represents the first time McDonnell has been solely at the helm of a project for almost eight years. This quartet’s music ably reflects David’s ongoing relationship with the liberating boundaries afforded by strong composition. These pieces are directly inspired by the interlocking rhythms of Afrobeat, anchoring limber rhythms and odd-time signature vamps to blues forms. Loose-limbed, nimble rhythmic patterns coalesce with vibrant, interlocking melodies. As the compositions unfold, new rhythmic and melodic gestures are grafted on to the foundation, or summarily discarded along the way. This approach makes for a harmonically rich, highly rhythmic web collectively woven together by the players. Straight-ahead blowing alternates with stirring free interplay, as the group stretches out, though McDonnell’s meticulously wrought forms remain well defined and buoyant. The rhythm section masterfully wrangles with the material at hand, churning out spiraling cascades of compound meter and energy. The album also features several brief episodes of McDonnell’s electronics coupled with chamber-like compositions, realized by vibraphone virtuoso Jason Adasiewicz and (fellow Icy Demons cohort) Tomeka Reid on cello.

the dragon and the griffin evokes in equal measure the music of Fela Kuti, Chicago post-rock, and the golden era of Blue Note Records, manifesting a singular vision for the future while demonstrating a reverence for the past.


released May 13, 2014

David McDonnell: Saxophone / Electronics
Chris Welcome: Guitar
Joshua Abrams: Bass
Frank Rosaly: Drums
Tomeka Reid: Cello
Jason Adasiewicz: Vibraphone

Art Direction & Design by: The Designer's Republic


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New Atlantis Records Yellow Springs, Ohio

New Atlantis Records is an independent record label documenting exceptional creative music, from avant jazz and free improvisation to vanguard rock music, and beyond. The ever-blossoming catalog features contributions from Elliott Sharp, William Hooker, Microwaves, Paul Dunmall, Blind Thorns, Dave McDonnell Group, Thollem McDonas + Sara Lund (Unwound), Hyrrokkin, Haitian Rail, Keir Neuringer, etc ... more

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