As on a high speed, downhill slalom chase, listeners are suddenly, nakedly and without poles hurled into "Missed Calls"; the opening burst of sublime energy and groupthink cracks Voyages wide open, sets the mad, determined pace and tone for a craftily organic, six-song, free-jazz adventure which never lets up. It is breakneck rhythm churning, keening, into whiplash waves, a wake up call of massive proportions. "Missed Calls" busts Berlin-based, British pianist Julie Sassoon and her henchmen from isolation and double dare listeners to free themselves from their sad quarantine and try the best they can to keep up.
Even when Voyages slows to catch its creative, collected breath, there is not enough time to do so. "Shifting," when its pull is not visceral, is emotive, unspooling in a righteously unruly, unsparing way and climaxing with a rising cry from tenor saxophonist and bass clarinetist Lothar Ohlmeier which fanfares victories up ahead.
"Waltz With Me," a not too distant cousin of "Missed Calls," features double bassist Meinrad Kneer, drummer Rudi Fischerlehner and Sassoon jumping from thought to action to reaction, a kinetic thrall from which Ohlmeier emerges with a few sure notions of his own. Throughout, the quartet navigate Sassoon's jumpy, hard-edged compositions and mood swings with a masterfully, intuitive ease.
"Jerusalem," perhaps the emotional core of the album, shades and hues, giving ample leeway for each musician to tell their own story within the context of Sassoon's broad recollections. Equal parts chamber piece and improv palette, it moves from whisper to prayer. From random scratches and notes to a fuller promise of redemption and triumph over whatever forcespersonal, political, environmental, viralhave and still continue to hold us in a place of daily despair. "Outside," its characteristically Sassoon ascendant crescendos giving way to an all out quartet blowout, and "Melody"which concludes as a thrilling hybrid of all that has come before itare just two more bonuses to be heard and heard again on Voyages.
Missed Calls; Shifting; Waltz With Me; Jerusalem; Outside; Melody.
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