Barre Phillips/György Kurtág jr.: Face à Face (ECM 2735)

Barre Phillips
György Kurtág jr.
Face à Face

Barre Phillips double bass
György Kurtág jr. live electronics
Recording/mixing:
September 2020 – September 2021
Studios La Buissonne, Pernes-les-Fontaines
by Gérard de Haro, Manfred Eicher,
György Kurtág jr., and Barre Phillips
Mastering: Nicolas Baillard
Cover: Fidel Sclavo
Produced by Manfred Eicher
Release date: August 19, 2022

Although Barre Phillips and György Kurtág jr., respective virtuosos of the double bass and electronics, first collaborated by chance, one might not know it by the interlacing qualities of Face à Face. Each artist translates the other’s language in a borderless loop of communication, so that by the end we are one step closer to sharing their lexicon.

They begin in subterranean space, listening as if with the tympanal organs of a beetle to the stirrings of labyrinth makers. And maybe they never plant feet aboveground, more content to abandon the light for other forms of perception. Despite hints of the outside world in the sampled drums of “Two By Two” and the kalimba of “Across The Aisle,” our flesh always feels caught by something we cannot readily touch except in thought. Still, a feeling of tactility reigns.

The briefest excursions never reach two minutes, while the longest ones exceed only four. Among the latter, “Chosen Spindle” travels into backlit caves of memory, where seemingly infinite regressions flirt with the here and now.

Phillips is a sage of the bow, turning harmonies into shaded reveries that speak of decades leading to their emergence. In “Extended Circumstances,” he sings with mythical electricity in folds of cricket-like chatter. His pizzicato, too, moves vocally through the refractions of “Ruptured Air.” Kurtág plays his instrument (a practically biomechanical array of synthesizers and digital percussion) as a physical appendage, never letting go even when placing a shushing finger in the foreground. “Sharpen Your Eyes” is a remarkable example of his structural sensibilities, artfully suited to the bassist’s renderings of space. Their deepest integration takes form in the ironically titled “Stand Alone,” wherein mitochondrial anthems resound. Even “Forest Shouts” speaks in quiet streams of thought, each ripple extending a hand to pull us upstream to where it all began.

If asked to compare this to another album, I might nominate Heiner Goebbels’s Stifters Dinge, to which this may be heard as an electronic counterpart. Both are dreams awaiting visitors.

Dine Doneff: Lost Anthropology (neRED/3)

Dine Doneff
Lost Anthropology

Mathis Mayr cello
Antonis Anissegos piano, prepared piano
Stamatis Passopoulos bayan
Dine Doneff double bass, guitar, percussion
Recorded live July 2, 2015
Einstein Kultur Munich
Engineer: Hans R. Weiss
Remix: Pande Noushin
Mastering: Tome Rapovina
Cover artwork: Fotini Potamia

For the third full installment of his neRED label series, multi-instrumentalist Dine Doneff presents a live set of seven original pieces. Playing bass, guitar, and percussion, he leads a quartet completed by cellist Mathis Mayr, pianist Antonis Anissegos, and bayan player Stamatis Passopoulos. This combination yields a fascinating gallery of scenes painted in various mediums, often within the same track. The opening “Pripapindoll,” for example, introduces us to a faintly abstract sound, a pencil sketch for the paint yet to be applied. When the melody makes itself known, it leaves a trail of pigment in search of evergreen hills beyond. The range of sonorities these instruments achieve is as varied as the topography they describe, culminating in a folk-like flourish. “Endekapalmos” follows a parallel path of development from less ordered dreams to smooth awakening, opening its vista for the bayan’s welcome entrance, sunlit and free as the wind. Doneff’s bass is the anchor for “The Fallen,” in which a groovier aesthetic prevails, the cello adding a fluid overlay, riding a wave of emotional transference from one peak to another. Mayr and Doneff carry over their traction into “Meglen,” setting up an evocative vehicle for Passopoulos and Anissegos, who trade words and memories to climactic ends. After the bayan interlude of “Exile,” a cinematic nostalgia bleeds into “Rite of Passage,” the initial flow of which clots in the improvised plasma of a prepared piano. At last, we reach the turning point of “Prolet.” Building from guitar arpeggios, it shifts into higher gear through percussive color changes, driving toward the horizon without once looking back because the only thing that matters is catching the last glimpse of sun before it dies.

Gard Nilssen Acoustic Unity: Elastic Wave (ECM 2724)

Gard Nilssen Acoustic Unity
Elastic Wave

André Roligheten tenor, soprano and bass saxophones, clarinet
Petter Eldh double bass
Gard Nilssen drums
Recorded June 2021
Studios La Buissonne, Pernes-les-Fontaines
Engineer: Gérard de Haro
Mastering: Nicolas Baillard
Cover: Fotini Potamia
Produced by Steve Lake
Release date: July 15, 2022

André Roligheten is one of the most exciting young saxophonists in the Norwegian jazz scene. I had the pleasure of seeing him in various guises under the auspices of the 2018 Nutshell jazz festival (see my writeup and photos here), and I always hoped to see his name on an ECM roster one day. I am happy to say that day has come, and I can hardly imagine finer company than Swedish bassist Petter Eldh (who made his first label appearance as part of Django Bates’ Belovèd on The Study Of Touch) and Norwegian drummer Gard Nilssen, whose highly sought-after name emblazons Elastic Wave as bandleader. Nilssen has played with almost anyone of note in the European circuit you can think of, from veterans like Audun Kleive (under whom he studied) and Arild Andersen to fresher talents like Maciej Obara (see Unloved and Three Crowns) and Roligheten himself. His paths have also intersected with major figures from across the pond, including Bill Frisell and Pat Metheny.

With such a title and album cover to go with it, we might expect a frenzy of activity. Instead, we are introduced to Acoustic Unity’s fluid identity via “Altaret,” one of two more relaxed tunes from Eldh’s pen. In silver-tinted monochrome, it lays an ante of trust on the proverbial card table. Later in the set, the bassist’s “Dreignau” allows the chips to fall where they may, tapping into an ethos that animates everything the band touches. “Influx Delight” breaks form with a tenor-led romp of post-bop energy that sparks the senses and, along with “Acoustic Dance Music” (both were co-written by Nilssen and Roligheten), puts its unique brand of introspective extroversion on full display. On the flip side, we find extroverted introspection in Roligheten’s “Cercle 85” and “Til Liv.” Whereas the first is a clarinet-led stroll through streets at night, the second is an ode to the composer’s daughter, the abstractions of which capture that delightful complexity daughters so uniquely hold. Nilssen’s “Spending Time With Ludvig” counters with a tribute to the drummer’s son, while “Boogie” flows with Eldh in intuitive confluence. Its free and easy style never forces its hand, puffing out old clouds into a new sky.

Nilssen cites many influences, from Jack DeJohnette to Jon Christensen (one of whose cymbals, in fact, takes pride of place in this session’s kit), among others. The tune “Lokket til Jon, og skjerfet til Paul,” notes this album’s press release, “also alludes to a scarf once left at the La Buissonne studio by Paul Motian, used here to take the edge off the bass drum’s ringing overtones.” Brushed drums and softly splashing cymbals show an artist at the kit, painting in everything from watercolor and acrylics to thickly applied oils. Roligheten’s sensitivities retake the helm, revealing the same depth of character I experienced in live settings. The saxophonist further contributes “The Other Village,” in which he plays tenor and soprano simultaneously, surprising us with bagpipe sonorities before riding Nilssen’s rolling thunder into oblivion. The latter’s “The Room Next To Her” closes the set with the guttural wonders of Roligheten on bass saxophone. Such feet-to-flame playing enacts a slow-motion punch to the gut that leaves us stronger for it. I can’t wait for Round 2.

Avishai Cohen: Naked Truth (ECM 2737)

Avishai Cohen
Naked Truth

Avishai Cohen trumpet
Yonathan Avishai piano
Barak Mori double bass
Ziv Ravitz drums
Recorded September 2021
Studios La Buissonne, Pernes-les-Fontaines
Engineer: Gérard de Haro
Mastering: Nicolas Baillard
Cover photo: Juan Hitters
Produced by Manfred Eicher
Release date: February 25, 2022

It is necessary to begin the
departure from the splendour
of the skies and the colours

of earth, to stand alone and
face the silence of death…

The first eight notes of Naked Truth planted themselves in the soil of trumpeter Avishai Cohen’s mind at the beginning of the pandemic. Thus sprouted the present suite in as many parts. Every question it poses can only be answered by listening.

Cohen and his faithful bandmates—pianist Yonathan Avishai, bassist Barak Mori, and drummer Ziv Ravitz—craft a story that has been told before, but rarely with such transparency. Part I opens with a duet between Cohen and Mori that looks through holes in the fence of life to glimpse what hopes might exist beyond. Part II introduces the sparks of Avishai at the keys, floating from the small fires of Ravitz at the kit. Cohen and Mori close with a prayer as much for the journey ahead as for the rubble left behind.

The pianism of Part III reaches vastly, setting up a bass-doubled motif that circles in search of song. From these threads, Cohen spins a fibrous sound, muted yet strong enough to suspend the very earth before revealing a heart of light. Past the softer carpet of Part IV, Parts V and VI offer respective interludes for piano and drums, before the introspective Part VII rises in intimate grandeur. Part VIII adopts a backward glance, grooving subtly into the receding horizon.

The set closes with Cohen’s reading of “Departure,” a poem by Zelda Schneurson Mishkovsky (1914-1984), in a translation from the Hebrew by Sharon Mohar and Cohen himself. Cohen recited this poem during his ECM 50th anniversary appearance at Lincoln Center. Its opening lines, which make up this review’s epigraph, have lived with me ever since. Mishkovsky reminds us that even when our elders hand us the truths of their experience, we tend to ignore them until we know them firsthand. We must live separated yet ever in the world, holding certainty like the candle it is, knowing its flame will one day sputter out. The music beneath the verses frames Cohen as a traveler whose journey has graciously intersected with ours for the exact duration of this album. I thank him for the honor of sharing the road with us.

Kit Downes: Vermillion (ECM 2721)

Kit Downes
Vermillion

Kit Downes piano
Petter Eldh double bass
James Maddren drums
Recorded May/June 2021
Auditorio Stelio Molo RSI, Lugano
Engineer: Stefano Amerio
Cover photo: Fotini Potamia
Produced by Manfred Eicher
Release date: February 11, 2021

On Vermillion, pianist Kit Downes continues guiding his chisel along ECM’s burnished surface. With bassist Petter Eldh and drummer James Maddren, he presents a mixture of ripe and freshly planted tunes, giving himself over to unforeseen impulses.

Downes and Eldh contribute five tunes apiece. The bandleader tries on outfits of various abstractions, finding each to be sleek and unrestrictive. The sound forged on “Minus Monks,” the album’s opener, is arboreal in its shade-providing abilities. Movements between colors, times, and places feel effortless beneath Downes’s fingertips. Paying homage to pianist John Taylor, he continues down that path of reverence with a sound that pushes as much as pulls. “Sister, Sister” takes an opposite approach, opening with exact measurements before tessellating into off-kilter rhythms, wherein his expressive body can flex without tripping over itself. It takes up no more space than it needs to, whispering its mantras of care only to those who ask to hear them. Such empathy can be hard to come by in a pandemic-scarred world, and it is a welcome gift. Further grace abounds in “Seceda” and “Bobbl’s Song.” In these, the trio shifts from wide-angle shots to close-ups, rendering the ears projection screens for the lives of others. Its breezy sentience finds solace in “Rolling Thunder” (Downes), wispy as clouds stretched translucent by the wind.

Alongside these graded plateaus, Eldh juxtaposes geometric rock formations. “Plus Puls” embraces quietly propulsive pianism while the rhythm section experiments with phonemes like a child rolling possibilities of meaning around in the brain. The upbeat fibrillations of “Sandilands” carry over that verve as its composer runs through a field of leaves without stepping on a single one of them. “Waders” is a high point for the trio’s organic changes, which do nothing to betray the difficulty of this music, rendered smooth as glass. What begins as an almost hesitant blues in “Class Fails” turns into a forthright exclamation of learning the hard way, leaving “Math Amager” to solve the Rubik’s cube of its self-regard.

In listening to Vermillion for the first time, I am moved by how these musicians treat light. Bright as our nearest star is, they manage to put a stained-glass window between it and us. This is most evident in their concluding rendition of Jim Hendrix’s “Castles Made of Sand,” an ode to the crumbling idols we call politics. If these reflections seem somber, it is only because those who’ve seen enough of life never stop drawing lines of awareness to the sun behind the clouds. There is always more to hope for.

Michael Mantler: Coda (ECM 2697)

Michael Mantler
Coda

Recorded September 2019
at Porgy & Bess Studio, Vienna, Austria
Engineers: Martin Vetters and Juan José Carpio del Rio
Additional recording, mixing, and mastering
November 2019 and June 2020
at Studios La Buissonne, Pernes-les-Fontaines
Engineers: Gérard de Haro and Nicolas Baillard
Design: Sascha Kleis
Produced by Michael Mantler
An ECM Production
in collaboration with Porgy & Bess
Release date: July 16, 2021

Coda: a concluding statement, based on elaborations of thematic material from selected past works. So does the booklet for this album of Austrian trumpeter and composer Michael Mantler’s Orchestral Suites define its collective title. In that sense, we might point to its reworking of material from his substantial corpus, including elements of 13 3/4AlienFolly Seeing All ThisCerco Un Paese InnocenteHide and Seek, and For Two. Beyond that, it is an inclusive force that attaches its tendrils to outside influences, carved as much on the surface of the present as of the past. Using his favorite ensemble format of flute, oboe, clarinet, bass clarinet, trumpet, French horn, trombone, tuba, guitar, piano, marimba/vibraphone, and a string section (here under the direction of Christoph Cech), he walks self-referencing as a path to evolution.

While Mantler’s music has deeply cinematic skin (going back at least to 1978’s Movies), there’s no denying a dramaturgical heartbeat within. This isn’t just recycling; it’s a psychological reforming of the self. A frenetic yet never overbearing energy pulls a punch in the TwoThirteen Suite. The electric guitar of Bjarne Roupé rises from the strings as a phoenix, while pianist David Helbock stirs the ashes left behind. In the wake of this tempered triumph, the Folly Suite interrupts in mid-sentence, opening into a quieter realm where the trumpet emotes from the ledge of a skyscraper, tracking as many bodies as it can on the streets below until it loses count. Effortlessly gliding from one part of the city to another until only memories of gridlines are left, Mantler is the itinerant planner whose leaves his messages like tickets on the windows of every illegally parked car as a reminder of acoustic order in a digital world. The Alien Suite leaves such quotidian concerns far behind as Roupé and Mantler go extraterrestrial. The flute of Leo Eibensteiner adds a touch of unexamined landscapes over tense strings. The overarching sense is that of an oncoming storm that never arrives.

If the piano in the Cerco Suite is a pile of bones, then the orchestra is the archaeological team putting it back together. The excitement of this discovery veers into a cavern where the oboe of Peter Tavernaro speaks of civilizations drawn into ruin. Whatever voices we might have recovered there are subsumed into the HideSeek Suite. What were once lyrics now become impulses—the physical sensations of the breaths that produced them. As winds and piano hover beneath the heat of the electric guitar, a mature control of tension and release treats the explosive reveals of life as a matter of course.

Mantler has always had a gift for turning melodies into full bodies. More than signatures or calling cards, they hold themselves together in spite of staggered surroundings. Such is the theme of these compressed realities, each a doorway leading to another.

Steve Tibbetts: Hellbound Train (ECM 2656/57)

Steve Tibbetts
Hellbound Train

DISC I
Steve Tibbetts guitars, kalimba, percussion
Marc Anderson congas, percussion, gongs
Jim Anton bass (1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 9)
Eric Anderson bass (1, 8, 9)
Bob Hughes bass (10, 11)
Mike Olson synthesizer (7)
Marcus Wise tabla (8, 10)
Claudia Schmidt voice (1, 9)
Rhea Valentine voice (1)
DISC II
Steve Tibbetts guitars, dobro, piano, kalimba
Marc Anderson congas, percussion, steel drum, gongs, handpan
Michelle Kinney cello, drones (9, 10, 11, 16)
Bob Hughes bass (15)
Tim Weinhold vase, bongos (15)
Marcus Wise tabla (3)
Recorded 1981-2017
Mastered by Greg Reierson
at Rare Form Mastering, Minneapolis
Cover photo: Lucas Foglia
Album produced by Manfred Eicher
Release date: July 1, 2022

“The Best Steve Could Do” is how Steve Tibbetts describes Hellbound Train, a sweeping anthology of works drawn from his decades-long trek across internal and external terrains. The Minnesota-based guitarist and composer selected tracks for this double-disc effort in terms of how well their beginnings and endings suggested connections in an emerging (if malleable) whole. Holding it all together is the trust he shares with his musicians, including percussionists Marc Anderson and Tim Weinhold, tabla player Marcus Wise, bassists Jim Anton, Eric Anderson, and Bob Huges, and cellist Michelle Kinney, among others. In sampling his ECM traversal through Northern Song (1982), Safe Journey (1984), Exploded View (1986), Big Map Idea(1989), The Fall Of Us All (1994), A Man About A Horse (2002), Natural Causes (2010), and Life Of (2018), we are privy to an artist whose instruments are as fleshy as his flesh is instrumental.

Disc I begins with light, as such experiences often do: the glow of an ember, the first twinkle at dusk, the glint in a child’s eye. In search of roadside rest, the itinerant Tibbetts coaxes an all-out percussive mantra from the thickets flanking his path. This is the setting of “Full Moon Dogs,” one of four vital organs transplanted from The Fall Of Us All. An electric guitar courses over this landscape with the charge of a meteor shower. As in “Nyemma” (a lunar spotlight on the voice of Claudia Schmidt) and “Roam And Spy,” he makes his choice—and a fire—to settle in for the night. What follows is not a peaceful slumber, though tranquility is never far away, sharing one image after another until a story takes shape.

Five signposts from A Man About A Horse rise like telephone poles against the Milky Way, strung with trajectories of communication to take upon waking. Whether through the clopping rhythms of “Chandoha” or the sputtering lantern light of “Lochana,” a sense of unease builds to the dyad of “Black Temple” and “Burning Temple,” wherein smoke rules the day. In the aftermath of “Glass Everywhere,” hints of violence dissolve into a brief exchange of voices and laughter.

Despite its destructive qualities, fire is a constant companion, fueled at every turn by the gristle of truth. Tibbetts survives by flinging his 12-string bola at the agile game embodied by hands on drums. The sunlight grows stronger in the elastic nostalgia of “Your Cat” (our sole dip into Exploded View), intersecting the ecliptic of “Vision.” The latter encounter foreshadows the standout selections from Safe Journey on Disc II, including the sacred congregation of kalimba, steel drum, and reverberant picking that is “Climbing” and the masterful “Night Again” and “My Last Chance.” With so much scintillation to chew on, it’s a wonder we don’t turn into comets in the process of listening to them. Big Map Idea compels five entries in this sonic diary, including a nod to Jimmy Page (“Black Mountain Side”) and an excerpt from “Mile 234,” an excursion marking time more than distance.

Grander biomes await us in two tracks from Northern Song. Whereas “The Big Wind” is a winged groove, “Aerial View” feels somehow connected to the earth—so much so that their titles could be reversed and still feel accurate. Life Of sends out four of its offspring, reared in the shadows of Natural Causes, of which “Chandogra” is the epitome of renewal. As if first setting out, our feet no longer have callouses, our muscles are strong, and our packs are heavy. We look upon the open road not as a burden but as an invitation. The only answer to our call resounds in the final “Threnody,” a guitar without a need beyond the hymn it holds against the sun as a compass for all who might come after.

An ethereal souvenir from places we will never visit, Hellbound Train struggles against the current of any vocabulary. This is the best can do to tell its story. A must-have for Tibbetts fans and an ideal place to start for those fortunate to hear any of this music for the first time.

Tord Gustavsen Trio: Opening (ECM 2742)

Tord Gustavsen Trio
Opening

Tord Gustavsen piano, electronics
Steinar Raknes double bass, electronics
Jarle Vespestad drums
Recorded October 2021
Auditorio Stelio Molo RSI, Lugano
Engineer: Stefano Amerio
Cover photo: Thomas Wunsch
Produced by Manfred Eicher
Release date: April 4, 2022

A new Tord Gustavsen Trio album is cause for quiet celebration. In that regard, ECM’s characteristic five seconds of opening silence feel most appropriate, at once an obstacle to and a cushion for our expectations. With the introduction of new bassist Steinar Raknes, the feeling of revival is palpable.

Melodies are treated as structural suggestions rather than prescriptions, allowing them to travel as a cartographer would, knowing the general layout of the land but never the details until they fall under foot. Being invited along for the journey is an honor I do not take for granted. Neither do these introspective artisans take the creative act for granted, as “The Circle” proves with open arms. It is the embrace of a friend we haven’t seen since the world became socially distanced yet whose presence never left, our ears receiving the kiss of something wondrous. Despite the slight reshuffling of personnel, the communication between Gustavsen and his bandmates is as organic as ever, each signature floating in and out of focus with an overall coherence.

The pianist’s writing is once again the center of this solar system, its light shining brightest on “The Longing.” In only two and a half minutes, this anthemic interlude charts an album’s worth of space and is the epitome of what this trio can accomplish. Other peaks in the proverbial valley include “Shepherd Song” and “Stream,” where soloing is always connected by a wind of regard. Just when it seems Gustavsen might fly off on his own, he reunites with his earthly shadow, never losing sight of home. In the latter tune, I cannot help but feel mourning for the late Harald Johnsen, who once stood where Raknes stands now. Like the Forest Spirit in Princess Mononoke, Raknes leaves slow explosions of floral life, fading as quickly as they blossom. What’s astonishing is how he, Gustavsen, and Vesepstad do all of this in real time, patiently crafting (if not letting themselves be crafted by) a gentle tug of war between echoing and foreshadowing. Such is the progression of life. Raknes must also be commended for bringing electronic enhancements to “Helensburgh Tango” and “Ritual,” in which his bow evokes the guitar of Terje Rypdal à la The Sea (in that same vein, Vespestad’s rolling snare and cymbals nod deeply to Jon Christensen). What sounds more aggressive on the surface, however, bleeds internally with humility.

A few improvised pieces keep us centered while revealing older inspirations and traditions. From the initial examinations of “Findings,” for instance, emerges the Swedish folk song “Visa från Rättvik,” while the album’s title track cloaks itself in a Gurdjieff-esque meditation. Both tracks have their counterparts, offering plenty of carpet on which to step, and not a hardwood floor in sight.

The final two tracks are the only ones not written by Gustavsen. Geirr Tveitt’s “Fløytelåt” (The Flute) takes us into a folkish vastness, widening the path for the metaphysical denouement of “Vær sterk, min sjel,” a Norwegian hymn by Egil Hovland. A conservative yet wholly appropriate statement on which to end, it moves in unison of steps. Here, the widest door is opened, even if the musicians feel no obligation to tell us what’s on the other side. That’s for them to know and us to find out.

Andrew Cyrille Quartet: The News (ECM 2681)

Andrew Cyrille Quartet
The News

Andrew Cyrille drums
Bill Frisell guitar
David Virelles piano, synthesizer
Ben Street double bass
Recorded August 2019 at Sound on Sound, New Jersey
Engineer: Rick Kwan
Assistant engineer: Christopher Gold
Mastering: Christoph Stickel
Cover photo: Caterina Di Perri
Produced by Sun Chung
Release date: August 27, 2021

The News convenes drummer Andrew Cyrille, guitarist Bill Frisell, pianist David Virelles, and bassist Ben Street. One would never guess the ad hoc nature of the quartet (Virelles was a last-minute substitute for Richard Teitelbaum, who bowed out over illness) in light of the cohesions that abound from note one of “Mountain.” Its compassionate declarations describe a peak of sub-equatorial verdancy. Awaiting us at the top is not snow but a clear and sunlit promontory from which to gaze upon the path we are about to follow in subsequent tracks. This is also the first of three tunes by Frisell, whose “Go Happy Lucky” is rendered as an object of dark fascination in Virelles’s pianism, leaving “Baby” to shine for its continuity. As the epitome of this band’s approach to time and space, it glistens with the purity of a virgin spring.

The title track by Cyrille dates back to the late 1970s and involves a newspaper-covered snare drum with rhizomatic touches from his bandmates. This brilliant turn hints at melody but sidesteps the commonality of expectation for the rewards of each unraveling moment. The bandleader further offers his balladic “With You in Mind,” which opens in spoken word. This sets up a late-night feeling from piano and bass, then shifts into Frisell’s meticulous speech-songs as warm organ undercurrents embody a respiration of the soul. Cyrille and Virelles detach in the improvised “Dance of the Nuances,” a delicate web of communication.

Where the pianist thinks outside the box in his playing, he shows restraint in the original “Incienso.” Along with “Leaving East of Java” (by AACM advocate Adegoke Steve Colson), it paints with flowers. In the latter, Cyrille’s cymbals work itinerant wonders as Street’s bass holds a steady watch in the background.

This production from Sun Chung (who has since left ECM to start Red Hook Records) is a masterclass in how jazz should sound when left to define a space. The recording is shaped by the languages we hear, translated out of—and back into—a universal tongue and the great equalizer of all things: nothing less than music itself.