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Kit Downes, Petter Eldh, James Maddren: Vermillion

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Kit Downes, Petter Eldh, James Maddren: Vermillion
It shouldn't be tough to tell an artist open to alternate creation that their initial ideas behind any work of art—music, novel, portrait, sculpture—missed the intended target but the fall zone yielded some truly ecstatic, celebratory moments. Quite a few of them to be exact.

In the promo attending his third album for ECM, classically trained pianist and killer organ scholar Kit Downes reveals that, as these fruitful sessions got underway in May/June 2021 at Auditorio Stelio Molo in Lugano, he, bassist Petter Eldh and the steady handed drumming of James Maddren hoped to capture the essence of chamber music. Now, since we are a people of prejudice and habit, chamber music intrinsically carries with it a studied intent. A hushed motif. An underlying air of elitism. Be that true or fake news is a topic for another time and place because, Vermillion is far from being chamber music. It's not even close.

Poetic by nature and remarkably accessible, Vermillion, Downes' wildly affecting rebuttal to 2019's rich, sometimes prickly dispatch, Dreamlife of Debris (ECM), tip toes in like a ballerina assured of her mastery of movement and keeps one riveted and rapturous throughout the revue. Featuring five compositions each from Downes and Eldh and one Jimi Hendrix abstract, the standard bearing "Castles Made of Sand," the trio give life to these eleven effusive, open-ended, gravity-less miniatures that, at the best of times, will inspire a melody of your own and focus your listening to what the trio is offering up so generously.

Without being too much of a spoiler and giving all the joy away, Vermillion moves concisely like an album of hit singles. "Sister, Sister" has all the lilt and humanity one would expect to hear in the warm themes of a Charlie Chaplin classic. Skipping out into open shires of sunshine and waving grain, "Secada" gives way to the taut, persuasive "Plus Plus." "Rolling Thunder" matures slowly, the trio were feeling each other out for intent and direction. Lighter gestures of melody empower "Sandlands." Vermillion holds its beauty long after many others have given up the ghost.

Track Listing

Minus Monks; Sister, Sister; Seceda; Plus Puls; Rolling Thunder; Sandilands; Waders; Class Fails; Bobbl's Song; Math Amager; Castles Made of Sand.

Personnel

Album information

Title: Vermillion | Year Released: 2022 | Record Label: ECM Records


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