Pearring Sound – Socially Distanced Duos
Alto saxophonist Jeff Pearring usually leads groups ranging from trio to quintets under the group name Pearring Sound, but the pandemic intervened. So Pearring took a safe approach instead, deciding to play duos with six diverse musicians across eight selections, each recorded in a socially distanced manner, hence the title. In a very direct sense, this was his way of coping with the pandemic, releasing pent-up energy and engaging in musical conversations. An artist such as Pearring thrives on improvisational opportunities and this approach presented a novel way to do that.
The album begins with the sound of Billy MIntz’s drums in the first of two collaborations, “Twisting Pavement,” which Pearring takes into a melodic and rhythmic improvisation. The two also time on “Time In Isolation,” a relaxed jazz waltz and the disc’s longest piece at close to nine minutes. The next is very uncommon, a duo between a bassoon and alto saxophone on “Shapeshifter.” The bassoonist, Claire de Brunner, studied with Lee Konitz and Connie Crothers and this, as much as any tune, is an impassioned free jazz workout, with the contrasts from the higher alto and the deep bottom notes of the bassoon, representing a combination rarely, if ever heard, in a recording that isolates just the two instruments.
Bassist Ken Filiano, who has appeared on over 150 albums, many of which in the avant-garde area, joins Pearring for “A Continuous Conversation Renewed,” pushing the leader into several soaring passages while constantly maneuvering in inventive ways on the bottom. Another bassist, Cameron Brown, perhaps more familiar to most as he’s worked with Archie Shepp and Dewey Redman among others, joins Pearring, underpinning Miles Davis’ “Solar” with a sturdy, walking bass line and then getting playful in the exchanges with the leader in “No, We Don’t.” Saxophonist Daniel Carter, whose name we’ve seen recently with William Parker joins on soprano sax for “Present Value Impact,” that begins in free jazz style, eventually morphs into a ballad that finds the two horns in gorgeous harmony with each other. Finally, the album concludes as it began, with a drummer. Francisco Mela, joins the leader for an adventurous, energetic ride in “Extempore Arquitectura,” one of the more lyrical pieces.
For those who like the free and adventurous side of jazz, Socially Distanced Duos offers tremendous example of how inventive musical conversations can be between just two inventive artists.
- Jim Hynes
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