Chris Dingman couldn't have a better name for a man who strikes metal bars for a living: "It's perfect," he says. "I had no idea I'd become a vibraphonist." He began playing vibes seriously 12 years ago, studied at Wesleyan University and the Thelonious Monk Institute, and then made the big-league swing into New York's hyper-competitive jazz scene. Dingman has just released his debut album, Waking Dreams.
"I always had an idea of what my first album might be like," he says. "But it changed, especially over the last five years. I feel like my compositions have come into their own in a way that's more personal to me now."
In this session for The Checkout, Dingman brings a quintet to WBGO to perform three originals from Waking Dreams. "Clear the Rain" echoes the early influence of Malian kora master Toumani Diabate, as it undulates with off-beat hits from drummer Justin Brown. Another original, "Same Coin," slides into a brooding mood.
"I went to a meditation retreat," Dingman says. "One of the messages I took away from the experience is that pleasure and pain are two sides of the same coin.
"The record is a 14-part suite that's centered around 'Indian Hill,'" he adds. "I spent a lot of time [there] with close friends. It's a big hillside cemetery near the campus of Wesleyan University. I was listening to a lot of Wayne Shorter and getting really deeply involved in the history of this music. It was all just ringing in my head at the time."