This is Angelica Sanchez' second CD as a leader, after "Mirror Me", released in 2003. She can also be heard on two albums by the Malaby/Sanchez/Rainey Trio, with her husband Tony Malaby on sax and Tom Rainey on drums. Add to this trio French guitarist Marc Ducret and bassist Drew Gress and you get this quintet. Gress, Ducret and Rainey are of course also regular collaborators of Tim Berne's many bands. Musically however, there are worlds of difference. Yes, it's still very much free with lots of improvisations, but it's less avant-garde than Tim Berne, less abrasive, a little more gentle and restrained even than the Malaby/Sanchez/Rainey Trio, more compact in any case. The pieces are composed, at least harmonically and structurally, often also thematically. This more constrained form apparently allows her, as the pianist, to move more comfortably: lyrical, gentle and emotional, using the nice tonal possibilities of her Würlitzer electric piano, while at the same time leaving lots of space to her fellow musicians. As the other soloists, both Malaby and Ducret shine. Malaby has a versatility and broadness of pallette which allows him to play in any context, Ducret is in a guitar category of his own, neither playing jazz nor rock, yet a little bit of both, and he has so much to offer in creativity and character, that even in the more subdued moments, his sometimes wild approach offers depth and new perspectives to the music. Needless to say that Drew Gress and Tom Rainey are playing at their usual high level. The music is a step further into more adventurous territory compared to Sanchez' debut album, and it is for sure a step in the right direction to my taste. The overall result is beautiful and sensitive low to mid-tempo music, flowing like a river, but one with rapids once in a while and unexpected twists and turns, offering new vistas.
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