TOM CHALLENGER & OLIE BRICE – Blood Moon

Loop Collective

The coupling of saxophone and double bass offers variable viewpoints in an improvisational milieu. Assuming the obvious inequality in timbre and register, the challenge (no pun intended) lies in the designation of a common ground for the respective lines of thought. In areas where static temperament is a requisite, the layering of diverse complexions of sustained tones is usually the foundation. But Challenger and Brice’s phrasing is incontrovertibly motivated by jazz influences; the risk of dime-a-dozen-ness grows stronger. Fortunately, the pair’s melodic susceptibility places their efforts somewhere in between cultivated exchange and mild-mannered investigation. Blood Moon is largely typified by the unsophisticatedness of its contrapuntal tissue; on occasion – as in the quiet, chamber-like “Penumbral” – pinches of upper partial-improved wisdom become a part of the equation.

Still, the bulk of this record consists of brisk conversations that sound genuinely trustworthy. They might not turn on the inquisitive focus of a rationalist, or cause tumults in the circles of free jazz zealots. But there’s a crucial “beyond-the-cosmetic” connotation differentiating the instrumental interaction in every track. Sometimes a duo’s best intentions are weakened by the virus of overplaying greediness annihilating any spiritual shade which may surface in the discussion. Oppositely, Challenger and Brice discard futile hyper-technicism to maintain a solid proportionality, whatever they decide to play in any given moment. Their timbres are finely integrated by a domestic environment (engineer Alex Bonney’s living room, in fact) that enhances pitches and accompanying noises with a pleasing warmth.

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