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Sylvie Courvoisier/Mary Halvorson: Crop Circles

Mark Corroto By

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Crop Circles is the inevitable meeting of two remarkable female artists. Both pianist Sylvie Courvoisier and guitarist Mary Halvorson have distinguished careers. Courvoisier in her quartet, her large ensemble, and Mephista (a trio with Ikue Mori and Susie Ibarra). Halvorson leads a trio, quintet, septet, octet and is a member multiple bands including Thumbscrew, Anthony Braxton's ensembles and those of Taylor Ho Bynum. Both women often perform and record solo and in duo, Courvoisier with Mark Feldman and Evan Parker and Halvorson with Stephan Crump, Jessica Pavone, and Weasel Walter.

Both artists wrote music for this session. What's significant here is that the music, designed for this duo, while complicated, and at times knotty, is made into child's play. That is, if the child was a member of Mensa International. "La Cigale" opens the disc. Playing in unison, the musicians quickly split a the fork in the road. Courvoisier applies some prepared piano sounds to Halvorson's guitar pedal contortions. Both musicians reminding us their instruments are first and foremost, machines. They are also joyful delivery systems for things of beauty. "Aftershock" caters to a most delicate chamber, dreamlike sound, and "Double Vision" plies a déjà vu-like telling and retelling of notes, the kind that easily become a song stuck in your brain. The taut, almost claustrophobic, space conjured on "Eclats for Ornette" and "Water Scissors," are a complex math problem the pair must work out. Like all the pieces on this disc, they come through with flying colors, earning an A+.

Track Listing: La Cigale; Aftershock; Eclats for Ornette; Absent Across Skies; Downward Dog; Your Way; Water Scissors; Woman in the Dunes; Double Vision; Bitter Apple.

Personnel: Sylvie Courvoisier: piano; Mary Halvorson: guitar.

Title: Crop Circles | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Relative Pitch Records

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