With all tonalities being created equal, on Trio Tapestries, Joe Lovano's first as a leader for ECM and one of the first releases of the label's fiftieth year, silence abides. Both as concept and as actuality, silence lays at the heart of this eleven song lattice. Even the spacing between the tracks hangs appended, allowing the music to arise and fall, like thoughts and non-thoughts amid meditation.
By way of an invocational duet, "One Time In" with its gongs, airy, ghostly cymbals and Lovano's brooding, deep-tone tenor saxophone, welcomes the listener into the deep space that Trio Tapestries becomes. Drummer and teenaged band mate Carmen Castaldi absolutely absorbs the spirit forces at work. Marilyn Crispell's piano, her touch more rounded and yielding than on her most recent trio outing, the often volcanic Dreamstruck (Not Two, 2018) with Harvey Sorgen and Joe Fonda, enters like a guiding dove on the near reverent "Seeds Of Change." Long connected as Crispell and Lovano are by their ties to the late Paul Motian, it's no small wonder they become two seeking, monk-like voices here.
No bassist appears on Trio Tapestries and that suits these the trio just fine. Each instrument supplies its own supple bedrock. The impressionist's dream that is "Sparkle Lights" holds the true essence of the sound: three voices, space, and the will, or more likely the absolute human need to listen. "Mystic" highlights Lovano's beloved tarogato, a Hungarian folk instrument used in the past to rally the troops to battle, soars mournful yet blessed over Castaldi's tempered, sustained percussive-rumble. As they appear on several tracks, Chinese gongs have become central to Lovano's writing and questing nature. "Spirit Lake" looks onto some troubled water, reminding us that peace can fall prey to anxious intensity at any given moment. And even if "The Smiling Dog" closes Trio Tapestries on a most song-like note, it doesn't distract from the affirmative, ruminative arc of Lovano's larger, spiritual intent.
One Time In; Seeds Of Change; Razzle Dazzle; Sparkle Lights; Mystic; Piano/Drum Episode; Gong Episode; Rare Beauty; Spirit Lake; Tarrassa; The Smiling Dog.
Joe Lovano: tenor saxophone, tarogato, gongs; Marilyn Crispell: piano; Carmen Castaldi: drums, percussion.
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