Robin Holcomb/Wayne Horvitz: Solos

AAJ Staff By

Sign in to view read count
Robin Holcomb/Wayne Horvitz: Solos You can unbuckle your seat belt with this one, because it's not going to hurt to lean forward and listen closely. Two pianists who share more than just overlapping interests in music, Robin Holcomb and Wayne Horvitz are life partners as well. Their first co-billed collaboration on record (after multiple shared appearances) comes in the form of a collection of solo piano pieces, including eight originals, three covers, and three free improvisations. These pieces, which are mixed up in sequence over the course of the hour-long record, include eight performances by Horvitz and six by Holcomb.

Horvitz, a free-spirited keyboard player with a tendency to go electric, is probably the better known of the pair, making an early splash with John Zorn's Naked City and going to participate in subsequent genre-spanning explorations of outer sound with Pigpen, Zony Mash, the 4+1 Ensemble, and Mylab , among others. Holcomb, who's new to my ears, is a recognized singer-songwriter/instrumentalist with an impressive discography of her own on Nonesuch and Sound Aspects. They currently live in Seattle.

Most of what transpires on Solos is fairly reflective, introspective stuff, though there are moments of heightened intensity and drama. The cover art is actually fairly representative of some of the crisp, stark landscapes within. The most lasting impact comes with track six, the thirteen-minute "Before the Comet Comes," composed and performed by Holcomb with no improvisation. At times minimalistic, at others intensely lyrical, the piece feels warm and open—but the persistent unrest that's transmitted at many points through irregular phrasing, touches of dissonance, and the deep, rumbling crash midway through just can't be shrugged off without some deeper consideration.

Jazzier touches come through on Horvitz's understated, bluesy treatment of Wayne Shorter's "Armageddon" and "Stars Fell on Alabama," which will likely surprise listeners accustomed to some of his more dramatic and often groove-centric flourishes elsewhere on record. It's counterbalanced by the generous, wide-open spaces on Horvitz's improvised "Interpretation #2" and the unpredictable nooks and crannies on Holcomb's start-and-stop free improv "The Pleasures of Motion." Notable throughout are references, direct and oblique, to American folk music.

A solo project is by definition the most personal avenue a musician can pursue, and a shared one like this is especially so. These intimate sketches hang together with the glue of personal experience, transmitted through the medium of sound.

Note: this recording was recorded and mixed in DSD and comes in the hybrid SACD format, which works with conventional and SACD playback devices.

Visit Robin Holcomb and Wayne Horvitz on the web.

Track Listing: Reno; Tired; Armageddon; The Pleasures of Motion; Joanna's Solo; Before the Comet Comes; Stars Fell on Alabama; Interpretation #1; The Road to Zamora; Buttermilk Hill; Up Do; Interpretation #2; Done For; Crispin and Lisa's Duet.

Personnel: Robin Holcomb (piano), Wayne Horvitz (piano).

Year Released: 2004 | Record Label: Songlines Recordings | Style: Fringes of Jazz


More Articles

Read Fellowship CD/LP/Track Review Fellowship
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 22, 2017
Read E.S.T. Symphony CD/LP/Track Review E.S.T. Symphony
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 22, 2017
Read June CD/LP/Track Review June
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 22, 2017
Read The Invariant CD/LP/Track Review The Invariant
by Mark Sullivan
Published: February 22, 2017
Read Akua's Dance CD/LP/Track Review Akua's Dance
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 21, 2017
Read Daylight Ghosts CD/LP/Track Review Daylight Ghosts
by Mark Sullivan
Published: February 21, 2017
Read "Disappearing Day" CD/LP/Track Review Disappearing Day
by Edward Blanco
Published: August 9, 2016
Read "Dream Maps" CD/LP/Track Review Dream Maps
by Roger Farbey
Published: August 13, 2016
Read "Wisdom Of Elders" CD/LP/Track Review Wisdom Of Elders
by James Nadal
Published: October 8, 2016
Read "Voyage Home" CD/LP/Track Review Voyage Home
by Edward Blanco
Published: July 8, 2016
Read "Collage of Moments" CD/LP/Track Review Collage of Moments
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: February 17, 2017
Read "Guitar Fantasies" CD/LP/Track Review Guitar Fantasies
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: November 2, 2016

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!

Buy it!