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Recorded at the London Jazz Festival in 2008 and originally broadcast on Radio 3's admirable Jazz on 3 series, Keith and Julie Tippett are in fine form on Live at the Purcell Room. A musical partnership that was always remarkable from the outset, the duo is in a reflective, introspective mood for the bulk of this continuous suite.
In the early sections, whilst Julie cautiously enunciates the words of a self-penned poem, embers of slow-burning chords, and chiming clusters of dissonant harmonies offer up any number of potential avenues for the singer to explore.
As is often the case with the pair, alongside the sedate sections there are more fractious tussles. Here the words melt into staccato ululations, competing with frosty splinters of prepared piano. With melodic threads rapidly unraveling, scat associations exchange febrile greetings before scuttling off into unknown scales, and starkly nebulous territories.
The control each musician displays has its own breathtaking drama, a product of their own unique brand of musical telepathy. At around thirty minutes, there's a quiet intensity brewing between them, as delicate tumbling notes scatter like falling leaves, whilst Julie offers long, intimate notes, barely above a whisper. Occasionally a musical box, whose sugary Tinkerbell melodies twinkle forlornly, briefly takes centre stage, enabling the duo to regroup and gather up from the edge. There are so many revelatory moments of connection and interplay that it's impossible to note them all.
Suffice to say that between the pin-drop silences, and amidst the wood blocks, singing bowls, bells, shakers and other sundry percussive clutter accumulated over a partnership now into its fourth decade, there exists an almost tangible sense of trust and communion between the pair. In each other's company they are utterly fearlessmuch like the music they so compellingly create.