Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Peter Brotzmann and Heather Leigh - Crowmoon (Self-released, 2018)

Crowmoon is the latest collaboration between Peter Brotzmann, playing clarinet, tenor saxophone and tarogato and pedal steel guitar player Heather Leigh. These two musicians create a powerful and endlessly developing improvisation that clocks in at nearly an hour in length. The music works very well, with Brotzmann gradually cycling though his battery of instruments with each one adding just a little tweak to the proceedings whether it is the blustery tenor saxophone blowing gales of raw free jazz rooted in the new thing experiments of the 1960's or his swirling clarinet and pinched and exotic tarogato, a reed instrument originating in eastern Europe centuries ago and re-purposed by Brotzmann as a uniquely personal vehicle for expressive improvisation. Heather Leigh is a wonder on the pedal steel guitar, something that is often thought of in the context of country music and western swing, but as evocative as the instrument is in those settings, letting it loose in this freely improvised setting makes for an inspired partnership. The sole track "Cowmoon, the Auckland Concert" (the disc was recorded in New Zealand during 2017) moves from unfettered free improvisations to areas where the music becomes a force of nature, and it unfolds gradually, with Brotzmann at turns blustery and raw which is how we know him best, but also patient and thoroughly empathetic as a partner that allows the music to build over time, simmering shimmering waves of guitar that move to and fro. At times the music becomes ethereal or develops a cinematic sweep of soaring reeds and pastel toned guitar that evokes a wide range of textures and feelings. Leigh is key to the success of the music, alternatively providing a sympathetic and thoughtful setting for Brotzmann, but also providing direct engagement presenting musical textures that allow for collective improvisation and duo interaction on a very high level. This was a very successful album, and the musicians trust each other implicitly allowing for sections of solo areas which alternate with the complexity and power of the duet sections. Cowmoon - discogs

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