Tenor saxophonist Lena Bloch has a cool, cerebral style and a definite and captivating lyricism. Her second release Heart Knows
demonstrates this quite well. In addition, Bloch showcases her inventive compositional skills as she contributes four intriguing originals to the album.
One of Bloch's mentors, multi-reed player Yusef Lateef
inspired the poetic and multilayered "Lateef Suite" that opens with a contemplative duet with pianist Russ Lossing
. Bloch's intelligent and introspective saxophone "monologue" flows languidly over the darkly percolating rhythms. Bassist Cameron Brown
solos with warmth and lithe virtuosity while Lossing introduces ethereal motifs into his resonant and expressive pianism.
Lossing himself penned half of the tunes on the record. His melancholic "French Twist," heavy with western classical hints, opens with his unaccompanied and melodic phrases. Drummer Billy Mintz
underscores the dark shimmer of Lossing's keys with his splashing cymbals and reverberating beats. Bloch and Brown take turns in the spotlight with deeply pensive and wistfully poetic extemporizations.
Equally enthralling is Lossing's expansive and cinematic "Newfoundsong." Bloch's longing and fluid lines over the band's hypnotic refrains start off this elegant composition. Lossing brings a pastoral touch to the piece with his spontaneous, vibrant thematic embellishments. Bloch expands on these with the emotive glow of her intelligent improvisation.
Bloch and Lossing have a delightful and seamless artistic synergy. This is not only due to the complementary nature of their writing which gives the disc its conceptual unity. It is also the deep understanding they exhibit as they interpret one another's works.
Lossing for instance sets the mid-eastern mood of Bloch's vaguely Levantine "Munir" with his piano string manipulations. His thick, echoing chords and Bloch's singsong tenor engage in a sensual and mystical dance as Brown and Mintz set a tense and haunting beat. Lossing's cascading notes and Bloch's agile and muscular saxophone help create a subtly dramatic romanticism that permeates the track like a fragrant perfume.
Bloch's sophomore effort is very much in the same vein as her debut. Her approach and her vision, however, have matured and crystalized. The music here is exquisite and simulating and demonstrates, once again, Bloch's creative individuality.
Lateef Suite; Heart Knows; Three Treasures; French Twist; Esmeh; Counter Clockwise; Munir; Newfoundsong.