Gallery: s/t (ECM 1206)

 

Gallery

David Samuels vibraharp, percussion
Michael DiPasqua drums, percussion
Paul McCandless soprano saxophone, oboe, english horn
David Darling cello
Ratzo Harris bass
Recorded May 1981 at Sound Ideas Studio, New York
Engineer: David Baker
Produced by Manfred Eicher

Another enigmatic outlier in the land of the as-yet-to-be-reissued, Gallery follows in the tender footsteps of First Avenue. Its talents are immediately sent skyward in “Soaring,” where the sprightly vibes of Dave Samuels find complement in bassist Ratzo Harris and cellist David Darling, both of whom roll off Michael DiPasqua’s delicate snare and cymbals like words from a poet’s tongue. Darling takes some of the album’s most gorgeous improvisatory turns here. His fluid lines continue in “Prelude,” a duet with Samuels that shares the same breath with “A Lost Game.” The latter is transitory, not unlike the album as a whole, playing out especially in the rhythmic crosspollination between vibes and drums, slung ever so delicately by the bass’s curves. Paul McCandless lays the gold foil of his own beauties with a soprano sax solo that takes this configuration to greater heights, surpassed only by the reflective cello that follows. “Painting” sounds like a Gavin Bryars ensemble piece, unfolding into the remnants of a Morton Feldman dream before awakening in the harmonic contract of a “Pale Sun.” On then does the “Egret” drop us in limpid vibrations, where only a hushed “Night Rain” shows us the final trail.

As the album’s title indicates, this music offers a row of artful images. Yet rather than guide us through a linear passage of creative relics, it brings that passage to us, so that we need only observe…and listen.