334

The Dowland Project: Romaria

C. Michael Bailey By

Sign in to view read count
The Dowland Project: Romaria Tenor John Potter, late of the Hilliard Ensemble, formed the Dowland Project in 2003 ostensibly to record the music of Medieval English composer John Dowland (1563-1626). Dowland has several modern benefactors, including Paul O'Dette, Jakob Lindberg and Nigel North. These artists have concentrated on the letter of Dowland, making faithful reproductions of his music with sensitivity toward period music practices. With an eye to the past, Potter and group proceed forward, allowing for an airy creative freedom promoting improvisation within the confines of the "classical" tradition.

Much of Dowland's output exists only in sketchy vocal lines. Potter and his medieval specialists take this wisp of a melody and improvise about it, freely exploring the musical relationships between voice, melody and instrument. Romaria is the group's third release on ECM, the previous two being: In Darkness let me dwell (ECM, 1999) and Care-charming Sleep (ECM, 2003). With improvisation or not, this is rarified music, the smell of highland air and the sweet dampness of the English glen and valley.

Having made so much of Dowland, there is none present here, except in spirit. Potter chose alte Musik - ancient music. Potter selects Gregorian Chants, "O beata infantia" in fragment and complete forms. This typically a cappella style is as old as the Sixth Century. Potter casts these pieces against the Baroque guitar of Stephen Stubbs and the continuo viola of Milo' Valent. Rising out of this stark landscape is John Surman's reeds; his soprano saxophone rises like smoke from a peat chimney in the second setting of the beata.

It is Surman who most broadly exercises improvisation. His recorder sound vaguely Native American on "Der oben swebt" where the wooden wind rises like a mist over a medieval fair. "Dulci solum" is one of two settings from the 13th Century German manuscript Carmina Burana, the same source that made Carl Orff famous. Potter's well-balanced tenor is well suited for the songs chosen for this recital. It is as essential to the integrity of the music as the presence of Valent's continuo.

Romaria is an ethereal listening experience. Its bold improvisatory elements make this recording well suited for the jazz enthusiast who is looking for a little something different.

Track Listing: Got schepfer aller dingen; Veris dulcis; Pulcherrima rosa; Ora pro nobis; L' lume; Dulce solum; Der oben swebt; O beata infantia; O Rosa; Saudade; In flagellis; Kyrie Jesus autem transiens; O beata infantia; Credo Laudate dominum; Ein gut Preambel; Sanctus Tu solus qui facis; Ein iberisch Postambel.

Personnel: John Potter: tenor; John Surman: soprano saxophone, bass clarinet, tenor and bass recorders; Milo? Valent: violin and viola; Stephen Stubbs: baroque guitar and vihuela.

Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: ECM Records | Style: Classical


Shop

More Articles

Read Pathways CD/LP/Track Review Pathways
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: April 30, 2017
Read Landing CD/LP/Track Review Landing
by Mark Sullivan
Published: April 30, 2017
Read Words And Music CD/LP/Track Review Words And Music
by Roger Farbey
Published: April 30, 2017
Read Faces CD/LP/Track Review Faces
by Glenn Astarita
Published: April 30, 2017
Read Nor Sea, nor Land, nor Salty Waves CD/LP/Track Review Nor Sea, nor Land, nor Salty Waves
by Duncan Heining
Published: April 30, 2017
Read Petite Afrique CD/LP/Track Review Petite Afrique
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 29, 2017
Read "Times and Tides" CD/LP/Track Review Times and Tides
by Mark Sullivan
Published: October 28, 2016
Read "Lovers" CD/LP/Track Review Lovers
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: September 13, 2016
Read "Things Are Looking Up" CD/LP/Track Review Things Are Looking Up
by Jack Bowers
Published: May 9, 2016
Read "Deep" CD/LP/Track Review Deep
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: January 5, 2017
Read "Sharpener" CD/LP/Track Review Sharpener
by Nick Davies
Published: December 21, 2016
Read "Pole Of Inaccessibility" CD/LP/Track Review Pole Of Inaccessibility
by Mark Corroto
Published: January 20, 2017

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM RECORDS | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!