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Jean-Marc Foltz w/ Matt Turner & Bill Carrothers - To the Moon

Jason Bivins, Paris Transatlantic

On this little jewel from the good folks at Ayler, clarinettist Foltz meets up with pianist Bill Carrothers and cellist Matt Turner for an all-improvised session in the Twin Cities. Recorded on a bitter January day, it'd be tempting to characterize this limpid ... and often spare music as frosty, like ice packed in the deepest recess of winter, but such easy allusions can't capture the invitingly warm, reflective, often playful quality of the music. The basic trio sound is compelling, as Carrothers' simple and elegant patterns anchor the long cello lines and the at times Sclavis-like clarinet probing. After some early passages of atmospheric restraint, "Black Butterflies" is urgent and stalking, built atop wide shifts in bass clarinet register, with Foltz expertly dealing out moments of tension as he often lands on a single, buzzing, repeated note. There is delicacy and darkness on the piano/cello duo "A Pale Washerwoman," and an almost courtly processional feel to "Moondrunk" and "Crosses," both brimming with woody overtones. "Knitting Needles" is superb, with Turner playing elegantly with overtones as Carrothers explores modest preparations set against the low burble of bass clarinet, eventually creating a pulse track from his piano-cum-junktrap. The terpsichorean "Old Pantomimes" sounds like Foltz is playing two horns at once, his mass of overtones blending marvelously well with Turner's granulated sound and the snare effect from Carrother's preparations. In his liners, Foltz claims to hear echoes of Pierrot Lunaire in the background. The closing minutes of "Prayer" definitely hint at this source, but its harmonic world in some ways suggests Strauss's Four Last Songs too. One of the best chamber discs I've heard in quite some time.