How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
On Wingwalker, as on her other albums, soprano saxophonist/electronics manipulator Jane Ira Bloom concerns herself with all things mysterious and beautiful. On this album, however, she does considerably more. The saxophonist has connected with the seemingly magical elements that lead her to expand the imagination. She does so as she lets the voice of her straight horn emerge from the depths of her soul. With impeccable, almost mystical tone and with a palette of a myriad, wondrous colors Bloom conjures a blithe spirit that roams the deepest recesses of the mind, dealing glancing blows not just on the auditory senses, but on the tactile as well. Melodies not only land softly upon the inner ear but, like invisible feathers, lay gently on the fibrillating heart as well. Angular harmonies are unleashed at every turn, swerving with the music as it courses in delightfully unpredictable waves, filling the expectant emptiness.
With live electronics melded in with an upwardly soaring and downward-spiraling saxophone, Wingwalker is almost otherworldly. The ethereal beauty of the charts exist in what feels like a parallel universe that gently whirls and rotates in what appears to mirror and reflect tunes that appear fleetingly familiar as they skitter and slide into a realm that is at once unfamiliar and awesome and yet one that is superbly natural and tangible. The music here is also playful, as in "Life on Cloud 8" and "Rookie," not only for their affectionately tongue-in-cheek titles, but also for the childlike wonder in which the elements of melody and harmony are strung together. The blurred boundaries of the science of the mind meet the avant-garde of tone and timbre in "Freud's Convertible" and "Rooftops Speak Dreams."
The seemingly disjointed, even disconnected narrative that weaves in and out of the songs of the album actually inhabit a specific time and space compendium, but in a nebulous cosmos. Like a continuous air fraught with mystery and magic, Bloom floats from one song to the other, egged on by the pulsations of Mark Helias
. The two musicians appear to be alter egos. The wild ululations of Bloom's saxophoneas she wails and whoops in short and long lines that turn her tantalizing melodies inside outare matched with swing and verve by Clement's joyous harmony, chorus upon chorus. The diaphanous expanse of the music also owes much to the percussion colors painted on the skins of Bobby Previte
's drums, clothed in the exquisite sighing of his cymbals, which also sizzle and crackle as they enrobe the music.
And then, as if to show that she is human after all, Jane Ira Bloom ends this magnificent album with sensuous, almost erotic brilliance as she pirouettes all alone on what must surely be the definitive version of "I Could Have Danced All Night."
Track Listing: Her Exacting Light; Life on Cloud 8; Ending Red Songs; Freud's Convertible; Airspace; Frontiers in Science; Rooftops Speak Dreams; Rookie; Adjusting to Midnight; Live Sports; Wingwalker; I Could Have Danced All Night.
Personnel: Jane Ira Bloom: soprano saxophone, live electronics; Dawn Clement: piano, Fender Rhodes; Mark Helias: bass; Bobby Previte: drums.