It was inevitable that Dan Berkson (formerly of electronic dance duo Berkson & What) would make a jazz album like Dialogues: joyful, danceable, entertaining, driven by the pleasure principle, and filled with virtuosity. It represents Berkson’s experiences in London, where jazz is a living, breathing, dancing scene. It’s his love letter to the city, bristling with British talent such as bassist Andrea di Biase and drummer Jon Scott and recorded in his final days in the city before relocating to California.
All his groove-based influences, from blues and ragtime through funk to house can be heard, as can his love of the studio as an instrument and mixdowns that suit a club soundsystem. Detroit dons Theo Parrish and Moodymann are every bit as important to this record as Charlie Haden, Carla Bley, Keith Jarrett, Ornette Coleman, Jimmy Giuffre, and Herbie Hancock. There’s 50s and 60s cool modernism (the elegant ripples of “Sketches”), there’s 70s funk fusion (“Unity” kicks things off with a spring in its step), and there’s the pumping blues heart of “Live Bait”. Above all else, though, it’s a personal document: a life of music and collaboration crystalised in a magical, transitional moment.
– Joe Muggs