For drummer Allison Miller, a key feature of In Real Time is that this second Blue Note release captures the unique ensemble sound of Artemis. She stresses a palpable sonic integrity that she attributes to trust and chemistry. Renee Rosnes emphasizes the singularity of each player in the equation, underscoring "a striking juxtaposition between the stylistic approaches of the two saxophonists," Nicole Glover and Alexa Tarantino; "each illuminates the other." She adds, " Nobody sounds like Ingrid," which is certainly evident timbrally. Ingrid Jensen often inhabits the stratospheric pitch-space of a traditional lead trumpeter, but her tone replaces a straining effort typical of that register with a controlled but quiet quivering, more Philippe Petit on the highwire than Hercules in labor. Within the rhythm section, Rosnes describes "a great pliability" between Noriko Ueda, Miller, and herself. Her introspective "Balance of Time," with its quasi-metronomic accompaniment and glacial syncopated melody highlights this quality, and demonstrates that the band's compositional (and arranging) voices are unique as well.
Take the contrapuntally-charged opener, Lyle Mays' "Slink," for example. Rosnes' superb arrangement responds to Mays' 1986 version by standing the instrumentation on its head. Where he used synthesized flutes and voices as sonic fillers, she restores the samples to their sources (real flutes and voices). It is a subtle move with a substantial effect, the variable dynamics and timbres of the acoustic instruments generating a considerably more intimate human feel. Engaging instrumentalists as background singers is an arranging touch she has employed elsewhere. The singing is typically unaffected and the voices mixed way down, making it hard to identify them individually, but the effect is curiously refreshing. The unadorned voices of instrumentalists suggest an inner vulnerability that serves as an antidote to a braggadocio that sometimes characterizes jazz performance. Rosnes' work contains numerous examples of this trademark feature, from an arrangement of Thelonious Monk's "Brilliant Corners" that has members of Artemis singing phrases of that difficult melody in turn, to "In Time Like Air" from Kinds of Love (2021), where she and members of her group (Chris Potter, Christian McBride, Carl Allen, Rogerio Boccato) sing a riff based on birdsong.
"Timber," Jensen's episodic composition, was written on the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia, in the constant presence of pictures "depicting proud loggers standing amidst a barren forest floor filled with recently slain cedar and fir trees." She works deftly with a rich palette, orchestrating independence and clarity in the rhythm section against granular blends with messa di voce dynamics in the front line. The piece progresses seamlessly from one feel and texture to the next, starting with pointillistic bursts over a trumpet drone. One can only imagine the notation that causes soloists to blow little whirlwind gusts in turn [4:42] before dissolving into a group improvisation [5:12], settling into a unison passage [5:32], then moving on into a new feel.
In Real Time, the outstanding second outing of the Artemis band, deserves heavy rotation and inspires an eagerness to catch this dynamic group live (see YouTube video below).
Slink; Bow and Arrow; Balance of Time; Lights Away from Home; Timber; Whirlwind; Empress
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