Angelica Sanchez – Wires and Moss (CF 259)
What a magisterial opening to an album, ‘Loomed’ bumps into action giving a positive impression with the first melody. Here I am listening to Angelica Sanchez’s 4th album(*) to date as a leader, a finely produced album of lovely melodies and searching solos. This is also the second album from Clean Feed with this line-up, Tony Malaby – saxes, Marc Ducret – guitar, Drew Gress – bass, Tom Rainey – drums and of course Sanchez – piano, and a very fine group it is.
The album is made up of six pieces which work on the development of melody and freedom. It’s a concept that is gradually evolving throughout the modern jazz world. Structured melodies give way to open ended improvisations, sometimes wild and improvised, and others based on rhythms or melodic fragments used elsewhere. What gives these records, this one included, a very exciting side to them is the ability to interpret chord progressions using modern vocabulary. Lessons learnt from Albert Ayler, Braxton or Derek Bailey are now the norms, moving the art post-bop orientated improvisation into the realms of jazz for conservatory musicians. On this album tracks such as the fine opening ‘Loomed’ let the musicians probe areas that aren’t necessarily suggested in the initial tune before working in a more melodic area that although semi-written inspires the musicians to find alternative vocabulary. ‘Feathered Light’ lets Tony Malaby weave intricate soprano lines that are neither tonal nor atonal. However before Malaby solos Angelic Sanchez opens up the material a little in the same way that Keith Jarrett did back in his classic Impulse years band of Paul Motian, Dewey Redman and Charlie Haden. In fact the music probably owes more to that era (style) than one would maybe think.
‘Soaring Piasa’ finds Tony Malaby and Marc Ducret trading ideas before Angelica Sanchez gives the rhythm section some sort of harmony to work with. Drew Gress and Tom Rainey accompany her like a modern Bill Evans trio before the sax of Tony Malaby joins them by which time it’s clear that the melody is being developed and prepared to lead the group towards the end of the piece. It’s a very graceful and inventive piece that combines open soloing and classic melodic writing. the excellent ‘Wire and Moss’ which features Marc Ducret also works a little on the same idea. A sort of A-B-A structure with ‘B’ being the melody. ‘Dore’ has a dense melody full of rhythmic surprises. Gradually it lets the musicians find their own way, who then develop a more ‘open’ approach to the improvisation. ‘Bushida’ the final track is given over to Drew Gress who opens up the tune with a wonderful unaccompanied bass intro. The piece then moves gradually away into a dark melody that is punctuated by Tom Rainy’s (almost rock) drumming which accompanies Marc Ducret rough solo and Tony Malaby’s poly-harmonic(**) lines.
It’s a strong idea to finish an album that is certainly a pleasure to listen to. I imagine this will certainly be of interest for those who enjoy music that is ‘new’ in terms of jazz, yet aren’t ready to jump directly into more abstract improvised music.
*= I could only find, and remember, the following : ‘Mirror Me’ (Omnitone), ‘Life Between’ and ‘A Little House’ on Clean Feed Records.
**= Sorry for the maths expression ‘poly-harmonic’, but somehow it seems to conjure up the idea of these atonal/melodic lines.