Jane Ira Bloom - Wild Lines: Improvising Emily Dickinson

Label/Year: Outline, 2017

Lineup - Jane Ira Bloom: soprano saxophone; Dawn Clement: piano; Mark Helias: bass; Bobby Previte: drums.


To follow up last year's Early Americans, a vertiginously irresistible trio album cooked up with bassist Mark Helias and drummer Bobby Previte, soprano saxophonist Jane Ira Bloom took inspiration from the work of American poet Emily Dickinson to mount a double-disc album containing 14 originals and a single jazz standard.

The conception envisioned for this body of work, suggestively entitled Wild Lines: Improvising Emily Dickinson, allowed Ms. Bloom to expand her trio into a pliable quartet with the addition of the much-appreciated pianist Dawn Clement, who had given her contribution in 2008 and 2010 to the albums Mental Weather and Wingwalker, respectively. Her crisp comping and energizing improvised lines fit like a glove in the ambitious vision of the bandleader, who reserved the disc one for instrumentals and disc two for a dramatic combination of music and the poetry of Dickinson declaimed by actor Deborah Rush.

Many of these tunes can be found in Bloom’s previous record and were naturally subjected to a different treatment here. Among them, the highlights are the Steve Lacy-esque “Cornets of Paradise”, which primarily acts in an avant-garde setting before shifting to an enthusiastic swing, ultimately falling into a vehement African pulse just to return to the theme with demonstrative contentment; “Big Bill” whose upbeat 4/4 groove and catchy melody are quite contagious; “Singing the Triangle” whose question marks in the head’s melody often work as a point of reference in the collective’s explorations; and “Dangerous Times”, which feels like an Indian rhapsody maintained by rubber-coated drum chops prepared with percussive mallets. 

Among the previously unrecorded compositions, “Emily & Her Atoms” is particularly lyric in its classical enunciations, “Alone & In A Circumstance” strives with spot-on disruptions and Previte's noticeable mallet work, and “One Note From One Bird” denotes an attractive charm that derives from the clear terminology employed in the improvisations, the uninterrupted swinging pulse, and Helias’ bass roams avoiding the traditional walking way.

Immersed in Dickinson’s 19th-Century poetry and competently assisted by the gifted musicality of her bandmates, Jane Ira Bloom renders a contemporary jazz album that it’s poetry itself.

        Grade  A-

        Grade A-

Favorite Tracks (Disc1):
02 - Alone & In A Circumstance ► 08 - Cornets of Paradise ► 14 - Big Bill