Hand In Hand In The Hand Of The Moon is a heartfelt homage to the artist Serge Vandercam (1924-2005) whose paintings, depicted on the inside CD cover, originally inspired this suite of collaborative improvisations. Initially the inspiration drew from a period of three days of the full moon in 1995 when the artist was influenced by the drummer's playing. For this recording in 2015, following a 20 year gestation period, the painting corresponding to each title was hanging on a wall clearly visible to the musicians. Davies herself painted the album's cover art in 1996 plus the "prelude" painting depicted inside the CD cover.
"Prelude: Hand In Hand In The Hand Of The Moon" constitutes a lengthy, explorative drum solo, from Billie Davies which includes a repeated bass drum phrase sounding much like "bada boom boom boom." The brass enters quietly on "Hand In Hand," introducing a brief melody led by Branden Lewis on trumpet, followed by Evan Oberla on trombone and Alex Blaine on tenor sax. The thoughtful, collective improvisation continues with "In The Hand Of The Moon" starting quietly but progressing to a more confidently raucous level, all the while the drums propelling the music along.
"Hand In The Hand In The Hand Of The Moon, Listen To The Bird" begins with mellifluous trumpet, joined soon after by the other members of the band, the improvisation breaking out into bluesy free-bop backed by intermittent walking bass lines from Ed Strohsahl.
More bluesy muted trumpet on "As She Tells" is countered by trombone and sax, whereas "The Shark In The Hand" begins to emulate an Albert Ayler-like feel. "Tiburon" starts slowly, again with bluesy brass and walking bass that suddenly pitches into an accelerando half way through. The final track, "The Bridge" is a sombre exercise in light and shade.
Although a one take "live" recording which took place in New Orleans on April 24, 2015, the resulting tracks are of excellent studio quality. This entirely improvised, yet painstakingly cerebral session yields some near telepathic ensemble playing, and maintains the listener's attention, not least on account of Davies' deft and sensitively imaginative percussive technique.
Prelude: Hand In Hand In The Hand Of The Moon; Hand In Hand; In The Hand Of The Moon; Hand In The Hand In The Hand Of
The Moon, Listen To The Bird; As She Tells; The Shark In The Hand; Tiburon; The Bridge.
Billie Davies: drums; Alex Blaine: tenor sax; Branden Lewis: trumpet, Evan Oberla: trombone; Ed Strohsahl: double bass.