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Album Review

Lauren Lee / Charley Sabatino: Dichotomies

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Vocalist extraordinaire Lauren Lee and the very active bassist Charley Sabatino, both New York City area residents, have collaborated to create the The Velocity Duo, and Dichotomies is their debut recording.

For many readers, listening to music, perhaps especially jazz, is an immersion experience, but this music demands complete attention, and gets it with soft-spoken intensity and unstrained concentration.

Completely exposed and alone in what sounds like a large, acoustically alive, but dimly lit space, the Duo freely improvises upon a word, or rather that word's extended emotional implications. Because all of this is quite subjective, each track's concept word is paired with its opposite, and the Duo asks the listener to draw his or her own conclusion.

There are very few syllables enunciated by Lee, so her singing is "pure" the sense of it being vocal sound rather than "singing." For his part, Sabatino's bass sound is on the dry side, and never threatens to overwhelm Lee.

The two performers are equal partners in that they clearly listen closely to each other, constantly giving and responding to cues such that they become a single musical organism that is investigating the "aural emotions" in real-time, continually expanding into the unknown.

This abstract, untethered, floating music develops a palpable concreteness as the tracks proceed, bringing the listener seemingly into the performance space, as well connecting emotionally. Of course, music is emotional communication, and the performer's goal is to eliminate the physical and emotional separation of the audience, but the cumulative effect in these performances is so strong as to be startling.

On the one hand, Dichotomies is fun to listen to, and that is not to be disregarded, but the experience very quickly deepens into something much more profound.

Go here for a live performance by Lee and Sabatino, two remarkable musicians.

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