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Veryan Weston/Caroline Kraabel: Five Shadows

AAJ Staff By

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The aptly titled Five Shadows documents a series of piano/saxophone duets which often feature more open space than sound. Because of the relatively sparse nature of these improvisations, the notes that are played tend to acquire special meaning. Each of the five tracks on this disc represents a separate performance with its own characteristic acoustics and approach. Overall, Weston's piano playing on Five Shadows avoids conventional melody or polyphony, preferring instead to utilize light runs and trills, with interspersed punchy chordal fragments. He engages in call-and-response free improvisation with saxophonist Caroline Kraabel. Kraabel's birdlike tweets meet with treble piano dialogue, while her explorations of tone and extended techniques conjure up more texture and tonal depth from the pianist. During moments of sustained intensity, especially as the disc progresses, their performance acquires an intriguing pulsing effect.

Both players understand and respect each other's space and momentum. When the energy level picks up, their improvisations assume a denser, more melodic flavor. Mostly, Five Shadows has a decidedly introspective, deliberate feel—characteristic of the airy aspect that defines much of British free improvisation. Listeners with a taste for delicate, deliberate interplay will find Five Shadows a rewarding experience. However, those seeking more of an emotional, expressionistic approach would be advised to look elsewhere.


Track Listing: Colchester; Liverpool; London; Cheltenham; Walthamstow.

Personnel: Veryan Weston: piano; Caroline Kraabel: alto saxophone, voice.

Title: Five Shadows | Year Released: 2001 | Record Label: Emanem

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