This disc has been a long time coming and its arrival is something to rejoice. After lending her talents to the discographies of others for many years Susie Ibarra is finally grasping the chance to record her own projects. Earlier discs with Denis Charles (“Drum Talk” on Wobbly Rail) and her husband Assif Tsahar hinted at this direction, but it’s wonderful to have the opportunity to hear her in a setting completely of her own design. As might be expected by listeners familiar with her prolific percussive talents the end result is something more than a little magical.
Joining with a pair of similarly gifted improvisers she has a crafted a highly personal program that makes the most of the group’s unique instrumentation. Burnham, a veteran of James “Blood” Ulmer’s Odyssey Band, shepherds an equal affinity for both acoustic and electric sounds on his instrument. He wields a broad bow against his strings, soaked in not only the traditions of jazz, but those of rock, blues, folk and gospel as well. His slippery pedal effects bring with them a funky uncertainty that adds significantly to the trio’s dynamics, particularly on the inventive reading of Hendrix’s “Up From the Skies” where his zigzagging lines approximate the wah-wah drenched guitar of the tune’s composer. Cooper-Moore is a garrulous enigma - an inventor of instruments, a composer and choreographer, and a pianist whose restlessly percussive imagination on the keys in many ways mirrors Ibarra’s own facility on her traps set. He is all these things and much more and his presence in this endeavor is perfectly attuned to the high levels of rapturous creativity that regularly transpire under Ibarra’s direction.
Comprised of compositions all penned by Ibarra, save the Hendrix song, the program is imbued with the capacity for kinds of chimerical improvisations that are the three’s bread and butter. “Radiance” presents a three-part suite that is beautiful in its tender poignancy. Burnham’s gossamer lines weave gentle melodic strains throughout the opening “Blessings” and Cooper-Moore is afforded the space to demonstrate his ethereal agility on harp on “Dreams.” Susie’s loose, but unfailing drums envelop everything in a constantly changing canvas of rhythms. The three switch to bamboo jaw harps on the brief “Laughter” for a whimsical conversation that easily elicits grins. “A Glimpse” is marked by sharp, staccato shifts in direction and Burnham is at his most fevered on this piece. Dark piano clusters and mournful violin characterize “Half Moon.” Rounding out the disc are alternate takes of sections from the opening suite that provide significantly different versions of the pieces. The only real shortcoming is the brevity of some of the pieces and the heights of creative expression that are continually attained by the three will no doubt leave you desiring more. Such uniform success bodes well for the trio’s future releases and here’s hoping there are more on the way soon.
Radiance: blessing, dreams, laughter/ A Glimpse/ Up From the Skies/ Half Moon/ Jagged Threads/ Arboles/ Magandang Araw/ Dreams- alternate/ Laughter- alternate.
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