Friday, April 10, 2009

Lotte Anker w/ Craig Taborn and Gerald Cleaver - Live at the Loft (ILK, 2009)

Saxophonist Lotte Anker takes a different approach to free jazz than is normally expected. Collaborating with pianist Craig Taborn and percussionist Gerald Cleaver, she investigates the subtleties and nuances of collectively and freely improvised music. Performances start slow with whispers and hints of melody and harmony and then patientlyAnker and her colleagues add more and more, building brick by brick until the have an architecturally sound group improvisation. Group interaction is really the key to this recording, the musicians are listening closely and reacting in real time to what the others are doing. "Magic Carpet" clocks in at over twenty six minutes and is quite a journey beginning with slow abstract scrapes and bleats, and the music is very wide open with possibilities for almost anything to happen. Anker and Taborn probe the territory like explorers on the frontier, as her saxophone picks up a fluid and flowing dynamic over a gentle and unobtrusive percussive pulse by Cleaver. This slow examination builds its pace gradually and by the eighteen minute mark, a more frenetic pace has been achieved, culminating in a fine piano and percussion interlude. "Real Solid" is another lengthy track with the same MO, with the musicians are quietly probing like boxers feeling each other out and waiting for an opening. Skittering and disjointed improvisation gives way to quietly emotional and yearning saxophone backed by light and nimble percussion and rippling piano. The subtleties give way to a fuller sounding improvisation at the thirteen minute mark, where strong, full-figured saxophone playing meets shimmering piano and percussion, building to great intensity. The comparatively short "Berber" sounds like a coda or an encore to the two earlier performances. This improvisation is kept quiet and its development is turned inward and the music becomes introspective. Patience and thoughtful subtleties are the hallmarks of this album, the music does not give up its mysteries lightly, but it is this sense of freedom and the mystery of exploration that make this worthy music for those willing to take the time and probe its depths.
Live at the Loft - amazon.com

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