Percussionist Jeff Arnal and pianist/composer Gordon Beeferman, two-thirds of Rara Avis (an ongoing trio with alto saxophonist Seth Misterka) and previously featured as a duo on 2001's Bodies of Water, meet again for Rogue States, a short suite of open-minded musical vignettes.
As on their earlier outing, Arnal and Beeferman eschew timbral trickery and sensational sound painting in favor of exploring and expanding on the more "traditional" acoustic palette of the drum kit and piano; unlike Bodies and Rara Avis' eponymous maiden release, this offering is "created in the moment, as the liner jacket makes bold to state.
In spite of a deliberate lack of pre-planning, however, Beeferman's compositional instincts are readily in evidence: tracks like "Pirouette on a Pin and "Terra Infirma follow an informal "arch form, bridging out in the middle sections to points-elsewhere, only to revisit the opening gambit; the insistently iterated monotones of "Auuk unravel organically in tight clusters; and "Split Screen and "In a White Haze illustrate the pianist's ability to flesh out the implied architecture of his initial impulse, building ephemeral edifices from protean melodic cells.
Arnal, meanwhile, is an ideal conversationalist, punctuating Beeferman's remarks with dashes, periods and exclamation marks of his own. Both slip easily in and out of "leader" and "follower" roles, achieving a nice balance of density and space, call-and-response, push and pull. At times the duo seems to enlarge into a threesome, as on "To Draw Us Near and "Enemy Static, when the pianist's independent-minded hands begin chasing (and catching) their own trains of thought.
Personnel: Jeff Arnal: percussion; Gordon Beeferman: piano.