Home » Jazz Articles » Album Review » Rachel Musson: Dreamsing


Rachel Musson: Dreamsing


Sign in to view read count
Rachel Musson: Dreamsing
If the solo album is a rite of passage for a woodwind player, then adventurous British saxophonist Rachel Musson passes with flying colors. Musson has found a mentor in 577 Records label boss Federico Ughi, a collaborator during his sojourn in London in the early 2000s. Consequently, the imprint has issued a stream of strong releases showcasing her talents, including Shifa -Live At Cafe Oto (2019) and Shifa -Live In Oslo (2020) with the titular collective completed by pianist Pat Thomas and drummer Mark Sanders, and I Went This Way (2020) which presents Musson's compelling take on blending notation, improvisation and words.

On tenor saxophone Musson packs a remarkable breadth of expression into 16 self-contained miniatures in a 36-minute program, of which only two breach the three minute barrier. She exploits the lexicon of the modern reed armory, including the use of multiphonics, alternate fingerings, buzzes, airy exhalations, key clicks, overblown notes, and the like, but deploys technique as an unselfconscious means to an end. The overall feel is organic rather than the purposeful sonic investigation of, say, an Anthony Braxton solo outing. She invests each sound with tremendous detail, thanks to close miking which reveals the physical minutiae of breath and mechanics to supply another layer of intrigue and feeling.

Moods run the gamut from abrasive ("Parakeet Pete") to introspective ("Twelveses") to lyrical ("Slinks") to jazzy ("Meloose"). But within such wide- ranging characterizations, fine gradations exist. Although the opener "Reeling" starts with the sort of gruff clarion call that Peter Brötzmann would be proud to unleash, she caps each phrase by soaring gracefully into the stratosphere. That is followed by an interlude of carefully nuanced delicacy, before a return to the opening gambit which creates an appealing whiff of form and logic, discernible throughout the disc.

Musson also deploys her voice, not only as perhaps might be anticipated by shading notes with vocal overtones, but also, in a departure from the norm, by declaiming her prosaic yet poetic texts, most notably on the episodic "For Pauline," but also on the wistful melodicism of "Syncope," (both being pieces which also appear on I Went This Way). Through the inclusion of her unaffected speech, she not only disrupts expectations and conjures a deeply personal slant, but also ups the charm quotient at the same time. Short but sweet, Dreamsing stands as a wonderful statement of intent from an artist on the rise.

Track Listing

Reeling; Peurgh; For Pauline; Slip; Trollo; Meloose; Twelveses; Leavenses; Slimpets; Parakeet Pete; Syncope; Lighthousing; Percy Patsy; Dotses; Slinks; Goodbyesing.


Rachel Musson
saxophone, tenor

Album information

Title: Dreamsing | Year Released: 2021 | Record Label: 577 Records

< Previous




For the Love of Jazz
Get the Jazz Near You newsletter All About Jazz has been a pillar of jazz since 1995, championing 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.

You Can 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 vigorously 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.


Hills & Valleys
Stick Together
Behn Gillece
Friends & Neighbors
Unknown Rivers
Luke Stewart Silt Trio


Get more of a good thing!

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