Canadian trumpeter Lina Allemano's first solo album was long awaited. At first listen, I was surprised and then I wasn't. To start with the latter: her music is inherently playful, full of the joy of creation, with rhythmic patterns and phrases on the first track inviting her to play around with, expanding them, as if she were a one man orchestra. There are moments of fun and humour, but also of deep emotions and technical bravura. And that's only the first track. It's no surprise because it's an obvious continuation of her ensemble work: a strong discipline in tone and structure with a wonderful balance between lyricism and abstraction.
The second track, "Clamour", offers a kind of internal dialogue, a strange creation of muffled multiphonics, dark growls leading to a self-generated response. She revels in this strange world, keeping its intensity till the end, focused despite the obvious changes.
So why was I suprised too? Because the solo setting allows her to go much further and deeper than on her ensemble work. "Shimmer" is a good example of this. The atmosphere is inherently sad, and her trumpet's crystal clear deep tones suddenly and unexpectedly get a reflection of multi-layered raspy undertones. It's a short piece, but very effective. On the title track she explores the nature of sound even more, with plosives, short percussive bursts, scrapings, whispers and toned notes. It's an exercise in explorative little surprises, in an effort to let the instrument speak for itself, allowing it to demonstrate what else it has to offer than the expected sounds.
The long last track is almost an instant standard, a modern gospel song with a warm tone and theme that suddenly starts to coil around itself, offering the theme's sonic mirror image, muted puffing and dark whispers, that suddenly evolve into human whistles, so intimate and near. A strange and very unique development.
Allemano enjoys her instrument, its tone and possibilities. Performing solo seems to offer her freedom, which she turns into a tight and focused and disciplined and varied listening experience.