Sylvie Courvoisier – Mark Feldman Quartet: To Fly To Steal (2010)

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Sylvie Courvoisier â Mark Feldman Quartet: To Fly To Steal
Between the membership of this quartet (Mark Feldman
Mark Feldman
Mark Feldman

violin
, Sylvie Courvoisier, Thomas Morgan, and Gerry Hemingway
Gerry Hemingway
Gerry Hemingway
b.1955
percussion
) embodies the twenty-first century improvising musician. All four members have recorded before and in a variety of situations of wide diversity. They bring all of the experience this implies to a program that stakes out its own territory, and from start to end, has set out a potent collective manifesto.

Drummer Gerry Hemingway

Gerry Hemingway
Gerry Hemingway
b.1955
percussion
has worked with Anthony Braxton
Anthony Braxton
Anthony Braxton
b.1945
reeds
's quartet in the past and it's clear that the experience has rubbed off. On pianist Courvoisier's "Messiaenesque" he's a master of sound and what it can imply. This perhaps wouldn't count for much if he wasn't keeping such empathetic musical company, whilst there's no reason to doubt that this is a group that thinks with one mind and plays accordingly.

Mark Feldman

Mark Feldman
Mark Feldman

violin
's "Five Senses of Keen" is another case in point, with the violinist working more in the contemporary music vein than that of the improvising musician as such. The division is of course marginal, some might even say arbitrary, but in the case of music so much a product of nuance as opposed to more overt gestures the distinction serves a purpose of its own, as does Feldman's innate romanticism as the piece progresses. Over the course of twelve minutes the mood—in a sense entirely at odds with the notion of mood music—runs from the lyrical to the ruminative and co-leader Courvoisier proves herself not to stand within Cecil Taylor
Cecil Taylor
Cecil Taylor
b.1929
piano
's looming shadow. She regards the keyboard as a summation of extremes, her touch on the lowest and highest keys making for an effective summarizing.

"Fire, Fist and Bestial Wail" doesn't live up to the title, but in a good way. This is a group that knows all about subtle contrapuntal interplay and Courvoisier again proceeds by stealth, but shadowed by Morgan's bass in a stand-off in which bluster has no part but progress by stealth and feint does. Hemingway answers the call to arms in a flurry of deconstructed time and in summary the proceedings are an antithesis of slick, technically flawless but ultimately lifeless piano trio music.

The title track's brooding, apprehensive quality is thus atypical, the result of rare collective effort. The music's essentially fraught progress is undermined by all kinds of tangents as added by all four musicians. In light of this, it would hardly be surprising if the center didn't hold, but it does, resulting in a tribute to the group's deep listening abilities.

Track Listing: Messiaenesque; Whispering Glades; The Good Life; Five Senses of Keen; Fire, Fist and Bestial Wail; Coastlines; To Fly To Steal.

Personnel: Mark Feldman: violin; Sylvie Courvoisier: piano; Thomas Morgan: bass; Gerry Hemingway: drums.

Record Label: Intakt Records

Style: Free Improv/Avant-Garde


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