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Monday, January 13, 2014

Angelica Sanchez & Wadada Leo Smith - Twine Forest (Clean Feed, 2013) *****

By Stef 

Beautiful albums do not need many words. Pianist and composer Angelica Sanchez has invited Wadada Leo Smith to join her for a duo album, recorded in April of last year. Sanchez is a member of the trumpeter's "Organic" Ensemble, whose "Heart's Reflections" also received a 5-star rating on this blog. Smith made one trumpet-piano duo album before, "Interludes Of Breath & Substancewith Matthew Goodheart, which was good, but this one is truly excellent. 

The great thing about the album is that both musicians are absolutely fabulous. And Sanchez doubly so, first for her compositions, which are inventive, abstract and open-ended, confident and sensitive at the same time, full of careful touches, very modern without going overboard. Second, her playing, is fabulous too. Disciplined and accurate and lyrical and fluid. She goes back to tradition, and in pieces like "Veinular Rub" - one of my favorites,  you can hear the blues as much as the modern cinematic composition, full of dark drama and sentiment. And of course the quality of Smith's playing no longer needs substantiation. 

"Retinal Sand" is one of my favorite pieces, because of its sustained tension, starting with some playing inside the piano supporting trumpet blasts by Smith, yet then everything goes quiet, but not quite, when cautious, almost hesitant chords force the muted trumpet to increase the volume, and the speed and the sad tone blossoms, opening like a flower, into clarity and playfulness. 

But my favorite track is also "Echolocation", with its beautiful middle section of single notes on the piano as a tonal center for the muted trumpet to circle around, minimal yet so rich, so rich. 

I will not review all eight of my favorite tracks on this album, but each one of them has its own story to tell, its own intimate conversation, full of warmth, openness and beauty. The stories are sensitive, sometimes with drama, and are human, about you and me, and other people, about sadness and joy, and everything in between, delivered with nuance and subtlety and depth. 

In the madness of our world, with all its violence, its anger, its noise and loudness, its shallow feelings and lack of time to listen to people or music - and I mean really listen to them - this album comes like an oasis in the desert, like a moment of silence in the chaos, a moment of calm in the mayhem. 

It will not only provide the listener with the joy of listening and getting enthusiastic about musical beauty, but the album is also guaranteed to have strong therapeutic effects, putting the rest of the world at rest, putting things in perspective and offer soothing solace. 

Available at


Anonymous said...

This was my "album of the year 2013", and I wondered why no one at freejazz blog noticed it before...
Now it has virtually no chance to get nominated for "best of 2014".
Too bad.

Deserved review/rating at least ;)

Jamie said...

Agree completely with anonymous - it's also my album of 2013 and I'm surprised it's still not listed on Smith's own website or his facebook.

Hope he is able to have her play with him when he curate's at The Stone in April next year .....