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Sparrow: The Light, a Tone Poem

Jim Santella By

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Sparrow creates one tone poem in eighteen movements on The Light to describe feelings and moods. Derived from the blues, his improvised form of communication leaves impressions for his audience to absorb and interpret. Joanie Pallatto provides lovely wordless vocals and meaningful reading of lyrics to complete the picture. Together, she and Sparrow open doors everywhere. The world is their theme.

Delicate poetry and a cascading piano deliver one message, while harmonica, guitar, bass, and drums provide others. Sparrow and Pallatto move comfortably in and out of various musical settings. Asian improvised music leads to Sun Ra recollections and later to electronic asides.

An acoustic piano trio settles in gracefully on the album's seventh and fourteenth movements, with Eldee Young, Mike Raynor and Sparrow oozing a familiar nightclub spirit. They're calm, cool, and collected in their straight-ahead recollections. Elsewhere, the leader uses electronics and distortion to portray various dramatic effects.

Movement number ten, the longest at close to sixteen minutes, builds from delicate music box surroundings to an expressive instrumental conversation, in an animated portrayal of our daily lives. We wake up, we socialize, we do our share of thinking, and then we rest. The listener is free to interpret this longer movement any way he or she sees fit; but it all comes down to our search for freedom. We interact and we follow certain norms, but we must always leave plenty of room for our individual forms of expression.

Pallatto's wordless vocals have the same effect. Alongside Sparrow, her role as an additional instrumental voice serves to capture the listener's imagination. While her lyric messages bring snippets of formal meaning, it's her wordless vocals that ensure freedom of presentation. She and Sparrow give their audience much to consider; it's food for thought.


Track Listing: The album contains one tone poem in 18 movements.

Personnel: Sparrow- piano, harmonica, whistle, percussion; Joanie Pallatto- vocals, narration; Ron Rolland- narration; Eric Noden- guitar, harmonica; Eldee Young- acoustic bass; Mike Raynor- drums.

Title: The Light, a Tone Poem | Year Released: 2004


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