Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Sylvie Courvoisier, Ned Rothenberg, Julian Sartorius, Lockdown


All of us who have experienced the recent year or so (as I write these lines) will no doubt look back upon it all as a definite trial. Our artists, musical or otherwise, like all of us have not remained untouched, but reacted to the time--with creative output if they could remain in their productive zone. So today for instance there is the recent trio open form Jazz album Lockdown (Clean Feed CF560CD) as recorded this past October 2020 in the thick of the Pandemic, by Sylvie Courvoisier, Ned Rothenberg and Julian Sartorius. Many readers will no doubt be familiar with at least some of these artists, but if not then here is a chance to get to know them.

Sylvie Courvoisier is the pianist, Ned Rothenberg plays alto sax, clarinet, bass clarinet and shakuhachi, and Julian Sartorius in on drums and percussion. By virtue of the album title Lockdown we understand that the music responds with immediacy to the Pandemic circumstances. And for sure the music has a somewhat more contemplative attitude than perhaps a live club date in a pre-Pandemic time might have had.

Of the eight segments that make up the album, three were composed by Ms. Courvoisier, one is by Ned Rothenberg and the remaining four were jointly composed and/or collectively improvised by the trio as a whole. As a whole there are composed lines that form a group melody-harmony-rhythmic ringing out, then there are at times some ostinato-riff figures that underpin things, then as we might expect there are telepathic and telekinetic three-way improvisations.

Remarkable as you listen are the sorts of reflective smarts this music conveys, and not surprisingly a seriousness that comes with the lived experience, as seconded with such titles as "Deep Rabbit Hole," and "Quarantina."

Julian Sartorius's drumming is inventive, sonically well developed and free while also commenting on the piano-reed soloing that sets apart the drumming and allows it to have an avant discursive rather than a time-keeping role per se.

Both Courvoisier and Rothenberg are limber, lucid, inspired, free-wheeling and expressive on many levels. 

The trio convinces with sure-handed confidence and musicality without trying to engage in virtuosic showboating and it all works. The trio here functions as a fountainhead of interesting musical ideas. This is one of the most musically expressive free trio dates I've heard yet this year. Get this if you want to keep up with what is happening out there. Very recommended.

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