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Pear: extemp’ore

Mark Corroto By

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The improvising duo of Pear—keyboardist Nick Pierone and percussionist Rick Milne— plays a fanciful game of six degrees of separation on extemp'ore.

The opening "Dewey Miles" is a piece of cake, with the sampled voice of Miles Davis whispering "play what you hear" to some Betty, or maybe Jean-Pierre in the backseat. Pierone's piano dances and flirts with the words, as the duo conjures Davis' 1980 comeback. With guest Jennifer Leitham attending to the heavy bass, there's the first connection.

From there the separation game unravels a bit. Is Annie Wadhams' French conversation a link to Ascenseur Pour L'Echafaud (Fontana, 1958), the Davis soundtrack to Louis Malle's film? There's the feeling that the next clue comes from Weather Report and Jaco Pastorius on "Tribute To Lorraine," with Jimmy Johnson supplying the bass line. The sounds are soon followed by Prince Diabate's kora, heard on "Prince Open" and the trail back to Miles ends. The West African "Jimi Hendrix of the kora" inspires the duo to deliver a driving piece of African music far from blues-generated jazz.

Maybe the six degree game throws a red herring; Davis might be the inspiration, but the connections here are closer to the creative improvisations of Medeski, Martin & Wood. Tracks like "Session 15" and the shorter "Fast Jenn" are suggestive of MW&W's instant composing. Pieces fade in and eventually out, hinting that this duo's methodology is similar studio jam creation. Pierone and Milne seem to piece tunes together as experiments, saving what works and discarding what doesn't.

The fanciful parts include a jam created over an answering machine message, and Pierone's daughters talking. It might have been bizarre twist if they had been talking about Kevin Bacon.

Track Listing: Dewey Miles; The Frenchaman; Jenn 2 Sect 1; Jimmy 1a; Von Schkinny; Session15; Tribute To Lorraine; C W; Carl Session 2; A Nod To Her Majesty; Prince Open; Fast Jenn; Black Socks.

Personnel: Nick Pierone: keyboards; Rick Milne: percussion; Carl Verheyan: guitar (9); Jimmy Johnson: electric bass (4, 7, 13); Jennifer Leitham: upright bass (3, 12); Prince Diabate': kora (11); Annie Wadhams: voice; Cindy Wonderful: voice (8); Mel Boyman: voice (5); Lorraine Milne: answering machine (13); Polly Pierone: voice (13); Clara Pierone: voice (13).

Title: extemp’ore | Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: Self Produced


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