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Noisy Neighbors

David Dominique, ‘Ritual’

David Dominique


The 34-year-old Somerville composer and trombonist David Dominique (originally from Queens, N.Y.) isn’t afraid of humor — his reference points on his new “Ritual” include Frank Zappa and Sun Ra, and he likes quick-cut juxtapositions of tempo and timbre, rock beats and jazz swing. Pieces can start with a slow theme that gradually accelerates into near-hysteria or they can wander dreamily in a free time of flute and gamelan-like gongs. “Big Boned’d Jim” alternates a helter-skelter horn theme with outbursts of skronky electric guitar and passages of medium-tempo jazz. But Dominique knows how to compose a through-line — a riff, a groove, a fetching melody — that takes his pieces through all manner of changes. And at his best, on a piece like “The Mulatto Shuffle,” he can suggest one of his heroes, Charles Mingus, creating counter-themes among his warring horns that gradually rise and merge into one ecstatic shout. And there are more conventional pleasures, like the driving African 6/8 groove of “Mooey in Paradise 2” or the slow lope of clarinet and baritone sax in “Drunk Hump.” Dominique’s humor is worth taking seriously.

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Essential “The Mulatto Shuffle”

Jon Garelick can be reached at

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