The New York City Jazz Record review by John Sharpe

CF 267Lotte Anker/Rodrigo Pinheiro/Hernani Faustino – Birthmark (CF 267)
Danish saxophonist Lotte Anker revels in the slow burn. For confirmation, just lend an ear to records like Live At The Loft or Floating Islands (both on ILK Music) by her trio with Craig Taborn and Gerald Cleaver to hear how she builds a soaring edifice from humble foundations. It’s a trait she shares with Portugal’s RED Trio who, in two acclaimed outings with saxophonist John Butcher and trumpeter Nate Wooley, demonstrate how they can absorb a radical stylist into their idiosyncratic group conception. Birthmark should appeal to fans of both outfits and make new converts besides, combining as it does Anker’s fluent husky musings with the spare but astute sound placement of pianist Rodrigo Pinheiro and bassist Hernani Faustino. In instrumentation, the threesome echoes Jimmy Giuffre’s pioneering ensemble of the seminal Free Fall (Columbia, 1964). And though she doesn’t play clarinet, Anker makes virtuoso use of some of the same split tone effects on her array of saxophones while maintaining a biting abstract lyricism. In that, she sets up a tension with the extended techniques of Pinheiro and Faustino. Subtle piano preparations accentuate the percussive nature of the keyboard while the bassist mines a wide range of timbres through insistent scrapes and scrabbling fingerwork, emphasizing the thwack of string against wood. Conversing through terse diction in a language of their own creation, they explore the expressive potential of line against tone. All seven cuts are collaborative constructs, characterized by a high level of sensitive interaction. “Golden Spiral” provides a case in point in the way ghostly soprano overtones merge with bowed harmonics and rubbed piano wires. After a tiptoeing sax/piano dance, the piece opens up for a wonderfully dark rippling interlude from Pinheiro, which shows that his armory comprises more than just novel textures. But that’s only one example among many on a set of chamber jazz that smolders throughout with dazzling intensity.

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