A Sense of Direction, Walt Dickerson's second album as a leader, was recorded just two months after his debut, and it opened up a side of his playing not so much in evidence before. Having firmly set out his modernist credentials with the moody atmosphere of the debut, Dickerson seems to feel more inclined to lighten up. Three of the eight tracks are standards (in contrast to the all-Dickerson debut), which help bring out more of the lyricism he's capable of. But even his originals are generally brighter and more immediate, and help showcase not just his progressive thinking, but also his mastery of the vibes tradition before him. One exception is the melancholy "Ode to Boy," a tribute to Dickerson's brother who drowned while serving in the Navy. But for the most part, A Sense of Direction finds Dickerson at his most extroverted. He's far more likely to show off his prodigious technique in flashy, tinkling runs (which make the up-tempo "Togetherness" a highlight), and he lends a cool romanticism to the ballad numbers.
Pianist Austin Crowe contributes some warm solos of his own, and the new bass-and-drums team of Edgar Bateman and Eustis Guillemet, Jr. is solid in support. If it's a shade less challenging and inventive than This Is Walt Dickerson!, A Sense of Direction compensates by making Dickerson's innovations more accessible and inviting.
|Sense of Direction / Walt Dickerson||Walt Dickerson||6:00|
|Ode to Boy / Walt Dickerson||Walt Dickerson||5:30|
|Togetherness / Walt Dickerson||Walt Dickerson||3:00|
|What's New? / Johnny Burke / Bob Haggart||Walt Dickerson||4:44|
|Good Earth / Walt Dickerson||Walt Dickerson||3:33|
|Why / Walt Dickerson||Walt Dickerson||4:48|
|You Go to My Head / J. Fred Coots / Haven Gillespie||Walt Dickerson||8:19|
|If I Should Lose You / Ralph Rainger / Leo Robin||Walt Dickerson||5:00|