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Stone Quartet - Live at Vision Festival

Stuart Broomer, MusicWorks

The great French bassist Joëlle Léandre first assembled the Stone Quartet for a single performance in 2006. Heard here four years later, the free improvising quartet includes pianist Marilyn Crispell, violist Mat Maneri, and wind player Roy Campbell, who plays both flute and trumpet. The bulk of the performance, Vision One, is a thirty-two-minute exploration of textures that evolves slowly, no matter how rapid its individual lines. Its special character comes from the string section of Léandre and Maneri, who together can summon the energy of a chamber orchestra playing a late modernist score. Maneri’s extensive work with microtonality is particularly germane to the group’s character and it gives a distinct identity to the string exchanges, as ideas catch fire between the two. The other musicians don’t exactly take back seats, but Crispell’s performance is particularly subtle, a spare line etched here, a sudden flurry there, ultimately practicing a brilliant contrapuntal pointillism that knits together the other parts in the ensemble. Campbell’s muted trumpet comes to the fore in the shorter Vision Two. His sense of line derives more explicitly from free jazz and there’s sometimes an almost idiomatic blues feel to his work, part of a rich coming together of different musical languages on a broad canvas.