Chris Dingman's music is like walking into a clearing: it's marvelous, but you can't easily pin why.
This is a high-class grower if there ever was one. As a vibraphonist, Chris Dingman lent a hand to many other jazz mavericks, such as Steve Lehman and Harris Eisenstadt, before making his debut with Waking Dreams. As far as debuts go, it's noticeably languid, somber and just a little bit difficult. It's really the kind of album a bandleader would make her third or fourth time out, at least. There is some fantastic shape shifting on "Jet Lag", tracing a line from soft bop to ambient. Most of the rest of Waking Dreams works under a hushed dynamic. Once you make it past that, you're in for some of the finest chamber jazz of the year so far. Ambrose Akinmusire and Loren Stillman fill in on trumpet and saxophone, respectively. Fabian Almazan, Joe Sanders and Justin Brown provide keys and rhythm.