Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Sylvie Courvoisier / Mark Feldman - Time Gone Out (Intakt, 2019)

Sylvie Courvoisier is an award winning pianist, composer and improviser, and her husband Mark Feldman is no slouch either, playing violin in every imaginable setting, particularly when associated with the Tzadik label and the works of John Zorn. This duet album is quite interesting, investigating the melding of American and European forms and styles of music from a new angle at the intersection of improvisation, composition, tradition and modernity. The album was recorded at the Oktaven Audio Studio in New York during September 2018 and the music itself strikes a remarkable balance, shrugging off familiar references and searching for new forms of communication and expression. "Eclats for Ornette" has swooping and diving violin met by nimble and impish piano, in a light and delicate performance that develops short cells of ideas and strings them together into thought provoking phrases. They resolve into a fast and lithe collective improvisation, like a chase scene, building drama as the performance develops. The dedicatee, Ornette Coleman played violin at times during his concerts and on record, and Feldman retains some of the heart on the sleeve emotion that the Texan brought to his music. The title track, "Time Gone Out," is a massive, nearly twenty minute long performance, a trapeze routine where each musician having absolute trust in the other is required because there is no net below. The length of time allows the music to evolve gradually and explore a wide range of ideas and motifs, with notions from contemporary classical music and free improvisation, and patches of wide open space allowing for careful thought and spontaneous connectivity. It is clear by listening to how this performance develops that the two musicians have developed a unique and intuitive way of playing together, adapting to each other's style of improvisation and sense of dynamics along the way. "Cryptoporticus" evolves in a more abstract manner, with long lines of violin interacting with deep bass notes of piano, with sections of near silence, allowing the music to find its own level in a completely free manner, with a bright and swarthy section for solo violin, then icy tendrils of keyboard slowly growing like frost as the piano begins to dominate the performance, using shades of light and darkness to further carve out its own space. "Not a Song, Other Songs" has some of the most powerful piano heard on this album, chords blasting out and sustaining in a shocking manner, as the violin steps wearily around, like a fencer looking for an opening. The dynamics of the nimble midsection of the improvisation is fascinating with showered of piano notes and swaths of delicate violin, then Courvoisier drops one of those massive chords, just when the listener is getting complacent. This was a very well played and fascinating album, it doesn't seem to fit anywhere, is it jazz, or it it some type of amorphous improvised music? Once the idea of labels of released and the music is approached on its own terms does it really open up to the listener and present its gifts, and those are well worth the struggle necessary to get there. Time Gone Out -

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