Sylvie Courvoisier: piano; Evan Parker: soprano and tenor saxophone; Mark Feldman: violin; Ikue Mori: electronics.
Brooklyn-based Swiss pianist Sylvie Courvoisier is known for her unreserved exploratory tendencies associated with modern composition, making of the unexpectedness her best weapon.
In her latest album, she convened a quartet whose familiar associates have similar tastes and approaches.
The abstract “Death of a Salesman” takes off with a scratchy violin and odd noises, passing through an unaccompanied saxophone divagation that later on ends up tangled up with the low notes of Courvoisier’s piano.
“A View From a Bridge” takes form in our minds as an unrushed contemplation, but gains an intensive life as it moves forward when it suggests heavy traffic and ungovernable agitation. The beautiful expressiveness of Feldman’s violin combines terrifically with Evans’ relentless phrasing, but is the piano pointillism set by Courvoisier that links everything together.
“The American Dream” was gloriously sketched through fateful strokes of a restless piano intertwined with Mori’s meddling effects, just until Feldman claims a space for his lachrymose violin, flying solo. Evans sneaks in, and gradually gains ground by throwing in cyclic saxophone trills, setting a spiky conversation with the violinist, mediated by the pianist’s thoughtful voicings.
Evans’ soprano saxophone appears surprisingly pensive in “Up From Paradise”, but doesn’t take much time to develop into uninterrupted cascades. The tune takes a dreamy path when Courvoisier gets involved and introduces stunning piano punctuations.
These first four tunes, played in quartet, have the compositional signature of the four elements of the band, in opposition to the next five, which resulted from duo collaborations, and whose highlights are “Playing For Time”, which joins Courvoisier and Evans in a beautifully strange dance, and the broody closing tune, “A Fountain Pen”, creation of the pianist and Mori.
Riding freely, “Miller’s Tale” easily puts the listener alert through its engrossing complexity.
02 – A View From a Bridge ► 03 – The American Dream ► 06 – Playing For Time