Jane Ira Bloom: Like Silver, Like Song (2005)
Like Silver, Like Song marks another fine addition to Jane Ira Bloom's catalog and another evolution of her working quartet, which has featured a number of accomplished pianists. However, with the addition of Jamie Saft this time around, one can easily hear that she may have discovered her ideal foil. Bloom has long been developing her electronics persona in an acoustic setting, and she has consistently been successful. And while the addition of Saft marks a pushing of these boundaries, the group sound never abandons the acoustic realm, nor the beauty of Bloom's music.
Saft's presence may earmark the album, but its success rests in large part due to bassist Mark Dresser (the only effects-free player) and drummer Bobby Previte, who form the very limber backbone of the group. Their constant drive pushes the album along its continuous flow of daring musical expression.
Opening with "Dreaming in the Present Tense, the album's pace is set through a searching sound that develops into a pointed composition. Bloom's solo, like the whole disc, works along a creative arc that builds organically, revealing something new with every listen. Even on the seemingly disjointed "Vanishing Hat there are shifting touchstones that work towards an end. The band switches gears and roles again and again throughout. Where Previte bounces along infectiously for a time, everything changes and Dresser carries the same melodic line in his place. Like a Rubik's Cube, everyone moves around but nobody is ever separated from the whole. Elasticity is the key here, all the parts synching up and moving away from one another, and yet the song always moves forward and never meanders.
For good reason, one of the focal points of the album is Bloom's "Singing in Stripes. Saft begins with a simple piano figure that is built upon by Dresser and Previte, who deserves special mention for his driving cymbal and snare work. Nearly a minute into the composition, Bloom comes in, repeating the same piano figure, and then begins to modify it into a whole other evolving phrase. By the end, everything returns to its beginning, and although the song is built primarily from this one simple melodic line, the invigorating playing it elicits from everyone, especially Bloom, is wondrous.
The group reprises the song to close the album, following the only standard, "I Have Dreamed, featuring Bloom in primarily a solo setting, only accompanied by Dresser playing arco during the final minute.
Note: this recording is only available from Jane Ira Bloom or ArtistShare on the web. Extras that come with purchase include media galleries with performance photos and podcasts. One features a conversation between Bloom and Dresser the morning after a performance, discussing how the band works:
Bloom: "[It's] like hanging out on the edge of a cliff. And there are certain people who like that, not knowing whether you are going to fall or you are going to fly.
Dresser: "...and you trust everyone so you can't get hurt. You're not going to fall.
Track Listing: Dreaming in the Present Tense; Unconscious Forces; Singing in Stripes; Altair 4; Vanishing Hat; White Light; No Orchestra; Magnetic; In an Instant; Mercury; Night Skywriting; Dark Knowledge; I Have Dreamed; Singing in Stripes.
Personnel: Jane Ira Bloom: soprano saxophone, electronics; Jamie Saft: piano, keyboards, Fender Rhodes, electronics, Wurlitzer; Mark Dresser: acoustic bass; Bobby Previte: electric and acoustic drums.