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.
Essential “The Mulatto Shuffle”
Jon Garelick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.