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Album Review

Susan Alcorn / Leila Bordreuil / Ingrid Laubrock: Bird Meets Wire


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Susan Alcorn / Leila Bordreuil / Ingrid Laubrock: Bird Meets Wire
Three accomplished improvisers of different generations meet in the studio on All Fools Day 2018 to explore some common and not so common ground. Although pedal steel guitarist Susan Alcorn started out in C&W, she takes her instrument to realms never envisioned by its originators. One could make the same claim for Brooklyn-based French-born cellist Leila Bordreuil, though here the precedents are more numerous, while the similarly domiciled German saxophonist Ingrid Laubrock, one of the brightest stars in the New York avant firmament, has branched widely from a jazz base.

As a consequence, their first release as a collective on Bird Meets Wire chafes at genre boundaries. The mix of abstract and if not figurative, then at least slightly less abstract territories, provides one of the key appeals of the set. It is manifest straight from the off on "Area 41," where spacey mysterious indeterminacy, which would make a super X-files soundtrack, briefly parts for an interlude of chiming pedal steel and a slowly ascending tenor progression, cushioned by a cello sustain. Such textural interweaving which subordinates instrumental prowess to group goals holds sway elsewhere too on cuts like "Is Is Not" and "The Fourth World."

At other times the constituent elements come into sharper focus. The twittering soprano saxophone which hovers over rippling pedal steel and a deep cello hum that suggests the sound emanating from high voltage power lines introduces the title track, and maybe even gives rise to its name. After opening with Laubrock's jazz adjacent tenor saxophone, "Topology" moves from atmospherics to a seething boil, and then back again. It's Alcorn who seems most likely to call on convention, invoking the Americana which permeates her instrument's history by introducing the familiar Chilean air in mournful fashion on "Caňones (El Pueblo Unido)," and again imparting a sombre tinge to the final "Indigo Blue (Wayfarin' Stranger)."

Track Listing

Area 41; Bird Meets Wire; Is Is Not; Topology; Cañones (El Pueblo Unido); The Fourth World; Indigo Blue (Wayfarin’ Stranger).


Susan Alcorn: guitar, steel; Leila Bordreuil: cello; Ingrid Laubrock: saxophone.

Album information

Title: Bird Meets Wire | Year Released: 2021 | Record Label: Relative Pitch Records

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