Bassist Jeff Dingler, inspired by living in Ethiopia for a year, brings the sounds of Ethiopia to the jazz stylings of New York City. Sounds of the blues, swing and bebop are all put to use on his latest release, “In Transit.”
About Jeff Dingler
The title of the album could be indicative of how Dingler spends his time between Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and New York City. The Manhattan native grew up in New Jersey. From Dingler’s formative years on, jazz was a constant part of the bassist’s life.
As an adult, Dingler has been a member of The Nelson Riddle Orchestra, Brad Shepik’s Balkan Peppers, The Yuki Futami Trio, Jon Saraga’s Quintet, Ayele Mamo, and Addis Acoustic Project.
As a composer inspired by eclectic styles, Dingler looks for common ground between those genres. His breadth of experience allows Dingler to know the commonalities between forms that to others would seem to have only contrasts.
Dingler inhabits multiple roles in the realm of professional music. In addition to composing, Dingler plays double-bass. Further, he is currently a professor of bass, music theory and composition at Yesus University in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Jeff Dingler: “In Transit”
The album is comprised of eight tracks. In addition to Dingler, the ensemble that plays on the recording consists of: Brad Shepik on guitar, Lou Rainone on piano, Gusten Rudoplh on drums, and Josh Bailey on percussion.
The soundscape of the album lives up to the travel that inspired it. The standout tracks are: “Bati Celebration” and the title track, “In Transit.”
The initial feel is that there are at least three songs playing at once. The overall sound is bright and energetic, and thus, it does sound like a celebration. Early in the piece, the busy soundscape breaks down and a classic riff of guitar and piano plays. Then, the song picks up again, and a piano plays stratospheric notes while the rest of the instrumentation seems to go in their own directions, but none of the sounds follow the piano.
The various motifs and riffs give the song texture and interesting dynamics. When audiences are aware of what inspired Dingler’s work, they will enjoy listening to the elements of Ethiopian music that appear on this unique recording.
The sound is almost lush, and the rhythm is smooth. It sounds a bit like classic jazz without horns. Audiences unfamiliar with Ethiopian music will wonder if what they are hearing constitutes the hallmarks of the country’s music. Even without that knowledge, listeners can hear that the song moves like a dance. There is a beauty and a calmness that enlivens every note and makes “In Transit” enjoyable.
Dingler’s passion for Ethiopian music and talent for jazz has allowed audiences to arrive here, with him– in the tracks of “In Transit.” The only downside to the recording is that there are only eight songs. Still, the elements of cool jazz combine with Ethiopian music to make listening to “In Transit” wonderful.