Susie Ibarra uses Flower after Flower to further explore many of the themes that she began to look at last year with Radiance. The exploration of non-western rhythms and dreamy soundscapes remain in place as does an undeniably playful sprit. These qualities only appear together on a few occasions, however. Most of the time, they come and go based on the whims of each player and the general message that they are trying to express within Ibarra’s compositions.
The key difference between Flower after Flower and its predecessor is that Ibarra is working with a much larger group of musicians here. Radiance only featured violinist Charles Burnham and pianist Cooper-Moore backing Ibarra. Burnham and Cooper-Moore show up here but so does the great trumpet player Wadada Leo Smith, Chris Speed on the clarinet, Ibarra’s husband Assif Tsahar on the bass clarinet, bassist John Lindberg, and accordion player Pauline Oliveros. All deliver fine performances at one point or another, as does Ibarra herself, but the musicians don’t play together much as one big unit. Instead they usually play only with Ibarra and perhaps one or two other musicians. There is certainly interplay but not of the large group sort that would be extremely interesting given the caliber of players involved. Fortunately this is a trade off not a bad thing as it means that the real star is Ibarra the composer. She doesn’t appear to write songs with the drums in mind but a sense of rhythm does run through her compositions. As a result, nearly all of the musicians, but especially Smith, play with the sense of showmanship and flair that usually comes from drummers. At the same time, this remains a rather quiet recording. Loud booms and bangs show up only sparingly and abrasive qualities are nearly absent. The soft textures entice listeners to open up a bit and before long it is hard to step away from the beauty.
Track Listing: Illumination; Fractal 1; The Ancients; Fractal 2; Flower after Flower; Fractal 3; Human Beginnings; Fractal 4.
Personal: Wadada Leo Smith – trumpet, brushes; Chris Speed – clarinet; Assif Tsahar - bass clarinet; Charles Burnham – violin; Cooper-Moore – piano; John Lindberg – bass; Susie Ibarra – drums, kulintang; Pauline Oliveros – accordion.