A case somehow of believe, redress, bestow: It is a 28 September release on Brum label Stoney Lane, listen to ‘It Begins’ from What We’re Made Of by Sara Colman.
The Bristol-born singer, who was heard to considerable effect next to Liane Carroll and Emilia Mårtensson recently at the opening Hawk’s Well theatre concert of the Sligo Jazz Festival, in delivering her own distinctive blues of the night.
Not since Polly Gibbons perhaps, comparable in terms of power although her natural register is closer to the Porters presiding singer-in-residence Carroll (surely an inspiration on Colman), has such an impressive mainstream jazz singer looking to the future, and not only but also the past, emerged.
Just think of what Marc Ribot did to guide us towards a new understanding and redrawing of the music of Albert Ayler.
Well, it looks as if Miles Okazaki, playing solo in a vast organic guitar project which has just dropped online, may well have done the same within his own prism of protean ideas and individualism. We will all now know the work of Thelonious Monk as if embarking to hear his compositions for the first time. Jaw-dropping.
⇑ latest elemental rites playlist Jettison the mood apps.
Running to a touch over a half an hour of either just released or upcoming tracks, the selection opens with some Mulgrew Miller-esque pianism, beautifully played by Shaun Martin.⇑ Then switch to the bluesy side of MBASE courtesy of a master of metre, polyrhythmic accent in group play and pulse — live.
⇑ Feel the free flow from Binker and Moses live. Going deeper. In the moment, not resting on their laurels at all.
⇑ Finally, dreamier than ever, Phronesis — in all contemplation.
A stated, unstated, paradoxical yes journey to and return from the mysterious, private, heart of the inferred abstraction of song by way of a sidelong glance in all saxophonist Raymond MacDonald and pianist Marilyn Crispell’s intensity, fearlessness undimmed.
Part conversation, in its ache of consciousness and means of expression, this is quite simply spectacular in its entirety — dusk to dusk, paced and poised.
On the title track, the opener, this is neither free improv nor is it a conventional treatment of a standard. It has a certain folky element, a beefy impossibly duduk timbre and heartcore tone conjured up that speaks emotion cycling monastically into the aloneness of pibroch (the ultimate Scottish highlands art music for a piper).
Yes ‘Roundabout’ is very stark, an emotional hue to MacDonald’s Steve Lacy-like higher register playing, Crispell sounding very different to the title track, a grandeur to her overlapping chordal imaginings.
If you haven’t already, listen again to Azure, the American 1990s long-time Braxtonian’s much more recent duo album with Gary Peacock and you may get more of an overall sense of her painterly style especially on the radiant ‘Waltz After David M’.
I have no idea what the alphanumerical series at the beginning in the titling which I won’t type out of ‘[ ] Why I Missed Cole Porter’ means if anything (maybe just randomly generated digits or a private duo code — it matters not a jot and crops up later).
There are no notes at all provided for Songs Along the Way in case you were wondering, perhaps some will appear online, so your guess is as good as mine about anything on this album.
The squally ‘Beach at Newquay’ enters an Evan Parker-like world because there are multiphonics and partials either ornamenting or anatomising. ‘Foresee’ is a big ballad: Crispell arpeggiating silkily, then MacDonald enters into a Scots folk music reverie and, again, that husky melodic feeling emerges unforced.
As for Crispell, I kept thinking of NYC: The Kitchen Concert. That was for trio. This duo, folkier and so fairly difficult to make a comparison, compatible only in terms of impact and as such similarly a taste of ambrosia.
‘Vortex’ at the beginning is a dirge, the multiphonics emerge after a while, the track physical and demanding on MacDonald going by the gulps of breath needed to power on. The track goes into Ayler territory later, again the emotion in the playing important and yet the levels of abstraction kept intact.
‘We Are Going’ is a beauty, Crispell in a bluesy gospelly Abdullah Ibrahim direction delivered as if the pentatonic is a universe. ‘Neolithic’ has multiphonics again and this time there is direct interplay by the duo from the beginning. Industrial chordal stabs and a factory floor of resonance are part of the effect.
‘Stars’ has a remoteness to it, a factor absent on ‘Across the Reservoir’ which is the one place where Marilyn Crispell’s inspiration in Cecil Taylor is fairly clear in the way that the pianist uses unusual intervals and hangs the notes in the air. When MacDonald comes in on I guess soprano sax this is one of those moments that do not come along very often. Final track ‘The Gallery’, again like so much on this landmark redefinition of improvisation, is full of tenderness and love. On Babel: *****
• Further reading, a 2013 review of Raymond MacDonald and Marilyn Crispell’s Parallel Moments. Updated on 11 August with additional comments. SG