b. Welling, Kent, England. Tenor and soprano saxophonist Dunmall has built a striking reputation among fellow post-modernists. After starting on the clarinet at the age of 12, Dunmall graduated to alto and then tenor and joined his first band while still at school. He toured Europe with the avant garde rock group Marsupilami in 1969, before moving to America in the mid-70s where he played with Alice Coltrane and Johnny ‘Guitar’ Watson among others. Dunmall returned to England in 1976, and three years later co-founded the excellent modern jazz quartet Spirit Level. In 1985, he joined Alan Skidmore in Tenor Tonic, and the following year formed the Paul Dunmall Quartet with Tony Moore, Alex Maguire and Steve Noble. Among the other artists with whom Dunmall has subsequently worked are Elton Dean, Keith Tippett, Annie Whitehead, Paul Rogers, Mark Sanders, Tony Levin and John Adams, in addition to being a member of Mujician and the London Jazz Composers Orchestra.
An untrammelled improviser, Dunmall has a deep sense of the roots of jazz and is also able to absorb into his playing other musical forms, including classical and, perhaps surprisingly, folk. Dunmall’s vigorous and adventurous improvisations area place intellectual and emotional demands upon his listeners and his uncompromising approach to his music has kept him away from widespread popular acceptance. Nevertheless, within the improvised music coterie his reputation has flourished. By the time of the late 90s set Bebop Starburst, his name was being recognized farther afield and his talents much more widely accepted. Additionally, and without diminishing his status as a major improviser, Dunmall has also developed as a skilled writer.