Parallel Moments is the breathtaking new album of duets by Scottish saxophonist Raymond MacDonald and American pianist Marilyn Crispell.
From the outset, it’s clear that these collaborations – glistening with delicate melodies, textural intricacies, and soaring, passionate, freewheeling adventures – are the work of two superior musicians at the very height of their powers.There’s a palpable sense of real-time exploration and discovery running through many of these pieces.
On the aptly named ‘Conversation’, Crispell’s oblique, ruminative motifs set a meditative tone. MacDonald comments with long, searching breaths, leaving space enough for the two to circle and sound each other’s mood. As they enter an energetic exchange of views, Crispell’s chords become more angular, caustic in their urgency, as MacDonald responds and counters with peppery brays and stabs, mocking flutters and tweets. Finally, resolution is reached – two friends agreeing to disagree. There’s also plenty here that confirms and underlines the two musicians’ diamond-bright avant-garde credentials.
Hear how, on the title track, Crispell’s abrasive rubbing of the guts of the piano and percussive string preparations goad a quacking, fidgety alto from MacDonald. As he dives into fierce circular breathing, and Crispell responds with dizzying whirlpools, huge gouts of energy erupt like volcanic clouds. But there’s lyricism too.
The opening track, ‘Longing’, perfectly captures the bittersweet pang of loving and wanting. As Crispell’s simple chords unfold with a gentle, unforced logic, MacDonald’s alto leaps and vaults, crying the blues of a heart-bursting yearning. It’s a breath-held cameo of intense beauty and precision.
Parallel Moments will astound and delight anyone who still has faith in the power of music and spontaneity to sound the pure emotions of the soul.
Raymond MacDonald is a saxophonist and composer who has written for film, television, theatre, radio and art installations. He has collaborated with musicians such as David Byrne and Jim O’Rourke as well as with many of the world’s leading free jazz and Improv players. He is a co-founder of the internationally respected Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra. Much of his work explores the boundaries and ambiguities between improvisation and composition.
Marilyn Crispell has been a composer and performer of contemporary improvised music since 1978. For ten years, she was a member of the stellar Anthony Braxton Quartet and the Reggie Workman Ensemble. She has performed and recorded extensively as a soloist and with leading players on the American and international jazz scene, also working with dancers, poets, film-makers and visual artists, and teaching workshops in improvisation.
“Hearing Marilyn Crispell play solo piano is like monitoring an active volcano. She is one of a very few pianists who rise to the challenge of free jazz.” - The New York Times