Kevin Hays and Bill Stewart, American Ballad, RGT Records ***

'Salt' has a thoughtful, gentle piano line from Kevin Hays studded by minimalist cymbal work and quietly insistent punctuation from drummer Bill Stewart on a 2015 recording that receives a first time release. Nearly all the tunes mainly improvised …

Published: 26 Jul 2022. Updated: 15 days.

'Salt' has a thoughtful, gentle piano line from Kevin Hays studded by minimalist cymbal work and quietly insistent punctuation from drummer Bill Stewart on a 2015 recording that receives a first time release. Nearly all the tunes mainly improvised were of course written by the duo - with Annette Peacock piece 'Archangel' the only cover. You dive in at the deep end immediately with this album beginning with 'Nebula' because there is an intensity from Hays on the piece that takes your breath away. But it takes dedication to really get what the duo are offering and that effort is worthwhile. 'The Good' is easier, quite funky in some passages and then Hays goes avant-garde - Stewart is like a metronome as his time is so perfect here. Not everything grabs me. But there is more than enough to hold on to including the lovely splashes on 'Openings' and 'Archangel' is very tender and provides yet another reason to linger long on American Ballad. SG

Kevin Hays, top left, and Bill Stewart. Photo via the Hays Bandcamp page

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Tags: reviews

Barre Phillips & György Kürtág Jr, Chosen Spindle, ECM ****

Track of the day and new in the 1 Love spot is 'Chosen Spindle' by the great US double bassist the improviser Barre Phillips (Aquarian Rain) in duo again on a luminous recording with composer, electronicist, synthist György Kürtág Jr - who is the …

Published: 25 Jul 2022. Updated: 16 days.

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Track of the day and new in the 1 Love spot is 'Chosen Spindle' by the great US double bassist the improviser Barre Phillips (Aquarian Rain) in duo again on a luminous recording with composer, electronicist, synthist György Kürtág Jr - who is the son of the hugely distinguished avant-garde Hungarian ''classical'' composer György Kürtág ('Splinters,' 'pas à pas – nulle part… (poems by Beckett)' to name a sprinkling of the latter's greatest work). 'Chosen Spindle,' is drawn from August's Face à Face. The piece has a serene wash in the execution, a quasi spectral underlay from Kürtág that develops a post-Palle Mikkelborg (that is way on from Aura) sense of colour that Phillips paints over moving from the precise to the relatively desultory in his narrative. Barry Guy, Dave Holland, Ligeti fans may well form a long queue to find alone time and space to really hear this conversational gem. Barre Phillips photo: Sam Harfouche/ECM

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