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Jane Ira Bloom: Wild Lines: Improvising Emily Dickinson

Roger Farbey By

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Jane Ira Bloom, winner of the 65th Annual Downbeat Critics Poll Winners (2017) award in the soprano saxophone category, took as her inspiration for this recording, the writings of nineteenth century America poet Emily Dickinson. Such was her admiration for the poet that she composed the music for this double CD as a lyrical paean, made possible by a commission from Chamber Music America's 2015 New Jazz Works Program, funded through the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.

Some of Dickinson's words, notably from a posthumously published collection The Gorgeous Nothingsand also Emily Dickinson and The Art Of Belief, are spoken by actor Deborah Rush on the second disc. The track titles mirror each other on both CDs, but in an alternative order. On "A Star Not Far Enough" Rush recites in full the five stanzas comprising Dickinson's poem "A Murmur In The Trees—To Note." Just as effective is "Singing The Triangle" opening with the lines "The Visit To The Circus," but the music that follows is spectacular, Bloom's soprano both soaring and yet powerful.

"Mind Gray River" is underpinned by Mark Helias's languid double-stopped pizzicato bass line and Bobby Previte's frenetic drumming introduces and pulsatingly sustains "Cornets of Paradise." The memorably hypnotic "Hymn: You Wish You Had Eyes In Your Pages" is just as remarkable.

Whilst sharing identical titles and roughly the same structures, the tracks on each CD are subtly different. However, the captivating performances on both the instrumental recording and its spoken counterpart are equally enthralling. Check out the insistent modal groove of "Big Bill." The sole outlier, not composed by Bloom, is "It's Easy To Remember" by Rodgers and Hart with Bloom's limpid unaccompanied rendition.

The title of the album emanates from Dickinson's short poem "Wild Nights, Wild Nights!" Curiously, she never had a commercially printed volume of poetry published in her lifetime despite her prolific writing, but this excellent and original album goes someway to restoring and revitalising the memory of one of America's finest poets, realised by one of America's finest soprano saxophonists.

Track Listing: CD 1:
Emily & Her Atoms; Alone & in a Circumstance; Other Eyes; Singing the Triangle; Mind Gray River; One Note from One Bird; Cornets of Paradise; A Star Not Far Enough; Hymn: You Wish You Had Eyes in Your Pages; Wild Lines; Say More; Bright Wednesday; Big Bill; It’s Easy to Remember.
CD 2 (music & poetry): Wild Lines; Emily & Her Atoms; Alone & in a Circumstance; One Note from One Bird; Dangerous Times; A Star Not Far Enough; Singing the Triangle; Mind Gray River; Cornets of Paradise; Other Eyes; Say More; Hymn: You Wish You Had Eyes in Your Pages; Bright Wednesday; Big Bill; It’s Easy to Remember.

Personnel: Jane Ira Bloom: soprano saxophone; Dawn Clement: piano; Mark Helias: bass; Bobby Previte: drums; Deborah Rush: voice.

Title: Wild Lines: Improvising Emily Dickinson | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Outline

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