Babel Label

Raymond MacDonald: alto and soprano saxophones; Marilyn Crispell: piano

In times of hyper-modernism people are inclined to repulse synthetic thinking, even worse if connected with something vaguely akin to what the trade calls “showing emotions”. Why bothering telling to someone – plainly and without filters – that we care about them? Why revealing that we’re not obsessed with the apparently mandatory study of the (usually fictitious) subtle details of recondite cosmic laws if we’re already a part of the phenomena substantially implied by those very rules? Then again, a type of consciousness exists whose insides balance logicality and pathos. That’s the special place where, especially in music, we encounter that transparency of intents and representations which should idealistically comprise the essence of an attempt to convey a feeling.

Not a shock, then, if one of the several engrossing tracks on offer in Parallel Moments is titled “Conversation”. The eleven minutes synthesize quite impeccably how a duologue featuring technically sharp and open-minded artists must work: circling around one another, Crispell and MacDonald stabilize a sphere of bilateral trust and confidence. Pregnant reed exhalations held for a very long time entwine reticent propagations of pianistic perfumes until the pair finds the right inputs to switch towards a slightly confrontational attitude. At times, the concomitance of expressive impulses is so emphatic that we’d expect a burst of nerves. Instead, the players hold up the level of coolness and intelligibility of their correspondence, thus proving that conflict is not a requisite when acoustic suggestions are proposed forthrightly to a creative interlocutor. During “Notes In The Sky”, some of the garrulous aspects of MacDonald’s communicative kernel are accompanied by Crispell’s lyrically angled figures; once more, the music’s varying temperament is a barometer of the couple’s precious symbiosis. On a somewhat different note, the first section of “Illumination” opens all the channels of an earnest positivity related to areas where specific contrapuntal combinations fortify our tolerance of unfavorable conditions; then, it all flows into one of the most involved twofold outbursts heard in the disc.

Itemizing the reasons for a direct liking is next to impossible, exactly as it happens among humans. This album expresses the intangibles of instant understanding effectively, both in the relationship occurring between the instrumentalists and the unprompted sympathy from the listener’s side. Good manners and creativity, with reasonable doses of kind-hearted virtuosity: the sum of these components spells quality.

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