Josephson / Leandre / Smith / Blume: Cruxes (2008)
Here's music the realization of truly collective endeavor. Each of the participants is acutely aware of the needs and demands of the moment, and the music they fashion is accordingly free of overt precedents at the same time as it works the seam of free improvisation in trenchant fashion.
The nature of the forces deployed Aurora Josephson's voice, two basses and drumsperhaps pejoratively focuses the attention on the first of these, but Josephson is astute enough to know that non-verbal communication in this area best serves the needs of the music. On "Praxis" for example, she brings her knowledge of technique to bear in a way suggesting she abides by Bill Evans's dictum with regards to learning technique and then forgetting about it. This piece also serves notice that both Joelle Leandre (bass) and Damon Smith (bass) are acutely aware of the tonal and timbral variety the double bass has to offer.
"Siberia Of The Mind" is a similar case in point and also one of the infrequent occasions when the music gets frenetic. Taken as a duo by Leandre and Smith, at less than three minutes in duration it serves as a microcosm of what the quartet's music is all about. It amounts also to an element of it being displaced and thrown into stark relief, with both players combining to give the music an impetus and at the same time a less reflective air.
Duration here happily serves far from obvious ends, however. "Un Soeur De Charite" is one of four live tracks and the duo of Josephson and Leandre fashion an other-worldly lyricism. That's in marked contrast with the following "Tableaux Imaginaires / Cadres Imaginaire" where the trio of Leandre, Smith and Martin Blume (drums) achieve a level of interplay that's only remarkable. The cohesiveness of the whole is helped in no small part by Blume's instinctive knowledge of percussive color, and there are times when the smallest sound comes as the biggest surprise.
If there is a shortcoming here, it lies in the fact that so much of the music is put out by groupings smaller than the full quartet. Whilst there is no discontinuity between the full group's efforts and those of the smaller groupings, it's kind of frustrating. That said, the free improvisation genre's seemingly infinite capacity for self- renewal is emphatically stated, as is the creative validity of music fashioned so profoundly 'in the moment.'
Track Listing: Risen Like Venus From The Flatlands Of Brooklyn; Imaginary Paintings/Imaginary Frames; Siberia Of The Mind; The Elusive Basilisk; Scriabin The Derailer; Tanglefoot Flypaper; Napoleon's Favourite Wine Chambertin); Praxis; De Papier Tue-mouches; Un Soeur De Charite; Tableaux Imaginaires/Cadres Imaginaires; Hodi Mihi, Cras Tibi.
Personnel: Aurora Josephson: voice; Joelle Leandre: bass; Damon Smith: bass; Martin Blume: drums.