Click here to [close]

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Elderflower - Deep Drink (Elderflower, 2010) ****

Elderflower bings a unique musical concept, the brainchild of two excellent musicians: Loren Stillman on alto saxophone and Ryan Ferreira on guitar.

Several years ago, I reviewed Stillman and appreciated his strong improvisational skills in a post-bop context, with his Trio Alto.

On the first and last track, Ferreira weaves extended electronic backgrounds for Stillman to play his ephemeral solos, sounding a little bit like ECM style jazz, but the "new-agey" coloring is no longer present on the next tracks, which are intimate improvised conversations between the two musicians, with the guitar having its "natural" voice.

On this album, Stillman and Ferreira take us is clearly into more avant-garde territory than I would have expected, while remaining quite accessible. The improvisations are cautious, dreamy, sensitive, abstract and impeccably precise. The pace is slow and measured, enjoying the moment and the shades of sound they can offer.

Stillman is a master at letting his alto speak, varying incredibly clear tones with multiphonics and nuanced shading, and Ferreira is in that respect his ideal companion for this music, another example for many guitar-players that "less is more", because his few notes create a whole world by themselves.

The fragile beauty of the music is underpinned by a subtle tension, just like the elderflower: sweet and a little toxic.

The album can be listened to and downloaded from Bandcamp, where you can also purchase their two previous albums. 

© stef