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Patrick Battstone and Richard Poole: Mystic Nights (2011)

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Patrick Battstone and Richard Poole: Mystic Nights How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

Pianist Pat Battstone and vibraphonist Richard Poole's Mystic Nights follows a small but illustrious tradition duo recordings including Gary Burton
Gary Burton
Gary Burton
b.1943
vibraphone
and Chick Corea
Chick Corea
Chick Corea
b.1941
piano
's Crystal Silence (ECM, 1972) and Visions (Steeplechase, 1979), from Sun Ra
Sun Ra
Sun Ra
1914 - 1993
keyboard
and Walt Dickerson
Walt Dickerson
Walt Dickerson
1928 - 2008
vibraphone
.

Also a pianist, Poole shows significant musical sympathy with Battstone who, having studied with Burton, also has a deep understanding of his colleague's instrument. This camaraderie is heard best on "Reflections," with each instrument reflecting—but not mimicking—the other with crystalline flowing notes, like a brook flowing into a pond. On the contemplative "Scottish Heather," piano and vibes echo each other like chimes in the wind of the melody creating a nocturnal mood.

A Zen-like atmosphere permeates some of the tunes, like the cinematic "Life Stories" and almost oriental-sounding "Gin and Tonic," with its rapid piano scales precisely punctuated by Poole's resonant mallets.

Battstone exhibits some classical avant-garde leanings, strumming the innards of his piano on the atonal "Newsreel" and delivering a Debussy-esque solo on the melancholic "Magical Morning." Hints of the blues appear on the spirited and free-flowing dialogue that characterizes "When Creatures Reigned," with Battstone's Cecil Taylor
Cecil Taylor
Cecil Taylor
b.1929
piano
-informed energy and percussive approach.

Elsewhere, bop-like flairs and Latin touches mark the otherwise free-flowing improvisations of "Cross Currents," where Poole's muted colors and Battstone's brighter palette complement each other perfectly as they fade into silence. This stimulating disc closes with the title track, Poole's mallets vibrating harmoniously with Battstone's harp-like picking of the piano strings, as it evolves into an angular yet mellifluous song that ends with ominous bangs and silent pauses.

This unique set of 13 improvised pieces creates an intensely meditative and mystical ambience filled with satisfyingly thought-provoking ideas. Mystic Nights can be enjoyed casually, but requires a careful and intent listening to be fully appreciated.

Track Listing: Scottish Heather; Summer Sunset; Gin and Tonic; Something Lurking; Newsreel; Undertow; When Creatures Reigned; The Miller's Tale; Magical Morning; Life Stories; Reflections; Cross Current; Mystic Nights.

Personnel: Patrick Battstone: piano; Richard Poole: vibes.

Record Label: Self Produced

Style: Free Improv/Avant-Garde


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