Home » Jazz Articles » Cath Roberts & Olie Brice: Conduits

4
Album Review

Cath Roberts & Olie Brice: Conduits

By

Sign in to view read count
Cath Roberts & Olie Brice: Conduits
In some ways one could liken Conduits to a telephone call between two friends, given that it was recorded simultaneously over the internet at the homes of baritone saxophonist Cath Roberts and bassist Olie Brice who live some 60 miles apart in England. But, while the vibe is conversational, this being an instrumental exchange, it is as if both talk at once, pursue different subjects, and even go off at complete tangents. And it is all the better that they do. Even though as a spoken dialogue it would be dysfunctional, when such interaction is done well, as here, there is a particular joy in the constantly modulating tension between response and independence.

Yet, though both lead and write original charts for their own bands—Roberts heading up Sloth Racket and Brice his own quintet—on this occasion they air their chops as improvisers on three pieces which total just a shade under half an hour. Given his role as a key component of freewheeling trios with the likes of reed players Tobias Delius, Mikolaj Trzaska and Rachel Musson or trumpeter Luis Vicente, it is no surprise that Brice so fully exploits the textures available to him, whether in purposeful pizzicato or slashing bow work. Roberts is similarly expansive, veering between the registers, from a gruff but fluid bottom end to vocalized multiphonic shrieks.

Maybe that compositional ear manifests in the weight given to repeated motifs, such as Brice's reiterated melodic bounce which starts "Pipework," or Roberts' insistently lyric repartee which she alternates with harsh blurts in the same piece. While the rejoinders may defy expectations, they are rarely unrelated, often matching in terms of pacing, dynamics or language. However it is the points where they converge, such as the welter of bent pitches which bloom part way through "Peering," which prove some of the sweetest. The final "Buoyancy Chamber" recalls a spiritual, something akin to "Old Man River," in its initial gravity, before spinning off into yet more irreverent but ultimately rewarding discussion.

Perhaps the only hint of the geographic circumstance is the absence of turn-on-a-penny conclusions, in favor of gentler endings; but that in no way diminishes the potency of the duet. More would be welcome, and it would be fascinating to hear how being in the same space might affect the already heady crossfire.

Track Listing

Pipework; Peering; Buoyancy Chamber.

Personnel

Cath Roberts: saxophone, baritone; Olie Brice: bass, acoustic.

Album information

Title: Conduits | Year Released: 2022 | Record Label: Relative Pitch Records


FOR THE LOVE OF JAZZ
Get the Jazz Near You newsletter All About Jazz has been a champion of jazz since 1995, supporting it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.

WE NEED YOUR HELP
To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to rigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.

Post a comment about this album

Tags

More

The Pan American Nutcracker Suite
Joe McCarthy's Afro Bop Alliance Big Band
The Power Station Sessions
The Pat Petrillo Big Rhythm Band
Sera Niebla
Nicolas Politzer
Xaybu: The Unseen
Steve Lehman & Sélébéyone

Popular

Get more of a good thing!

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories, our special offers, and includes upcoming jazz events near you.