By Paul Acquaro
Saxophonist and clarinetist player Andrew Bishop's De Profundis is a neatly conceived recording that seamlessly blends the composed and the improvised. For this album, Bishop looks towards composer Josquin Des Prez's (c. 1440 - 1521) motet 'De Profundis Clamavi' for inspiration.
The Renaissance composer was apparently quite popular during his time, especially for his choral works. How Bishop translates this particular work into his music is done through recasting some of the passages and melodies into the language of the trio of the sax, bass and drums. I have not listened to the work of Josquin Des Prez, and so I'm approaching De Profundis at face value - a modern jazz recording that combines elements of swing, free jazz, bebop and classical to create an inventive and accessible album. The trio has been one that Bishop has worked with over the past decade and includes drummer Gerald Cleaver and bassist Tim Flood. They released one previous album, Time and Imaginary Time in 2005.
Starting with the opener 'Introit', the low round tones of the bass clarinet rolls beckons the listener in. 'There are Many Monkeys' has a deep groove that propels the recording forward and Bishops' sax travels on a long, evocative, and melodic improvised trajectory. There is no wandering - the path is straight ahead and Bishop's momentum builds and builds. Ebullient clarinet work leads on the track 'Bottled' and Cleaver's minimalist drum break is precise and effective, sticking generally to a pulse as he leads into a lovely flowing solo by Flood. 'Six Days, Five Nights' is a flute driven floating affair and is one where you can feel the influence of the early music. 'From the Depths' is a dark, turbulent expose of the tortured clarinet. Cleaver rumbles and Flood's arco bass work adds a nice tension.
Source inspiration aside, De Profundis is a well composed and nicely played album. Truly a work of a long standing group, the trio is restrained in the sense that there isn't a reliance on extended technique or extreme dynamics, but at the same time that's not to say that the playing isn't fiery and passionate (take a listen to 'The Commute').