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Friday, June 14, 2024

Tomeka Reid, Isidora Edwards, Elisabeth Coudoux - Reid​/​Edwards​/​Coudoux (Relative Pitch, 2024)

By Ferruccio Martinotti

It’s crystal clear that sailing on these free music waters means leaving behind us the Pillars of Hercules, finding ourselves on “unchartered territories,” to quote Dave Holland, but jumping on board along with a crew of three cellists means undoubtedly pushing ourselves “beyond dragons,” to reference Angelika Niescier and Tomeka Reid, one of the above crew members. 

Let’s see what kind of boat we are talking about. Tomeka, for the very few not aware of, is a “cellist, composer, educator,” as shown on her website, grew up in Washington DC and blossomed as musician in the fertile Chicago’s scene, working with the AACM and receiving the Foundation of arts and 3Arts awards. Beside leading her own quartet along with Tomas Fujiwara, Jason Roebke and Mary Halvorson, and the trio Hear and Now with Mazz Swift and Silvia Bolognesi, on her resume shining the collaborations with Nicole Mitchell, Mike Reed, Joe McPhee, Paal Nilssen Love, Joe Morris, Fred Lonberg Holm, Savanna Harris, Anthony Braxton, Jamie Branch, Taylor Ho Bynum, Art Ensemble of Chicago, Makaya MacCraven, Roscoe Mitchell... easy to understand why she was elected “Chicago jazz hero” by the Jazz journalist association in 2017. The three cellos project sees Lady Cello teaming up with Isidora Edwards, member of Ensamble Taller de Musica Contemporanea, Ensemble Nuevo as well as dance and theater composer and Elisabeth Coudoux, classical music studies before moving to free and impro, collaborator of Michael Zerang, Mark Dresser, Mick Beck and Xavier Charles. 

Let's immediately say that the outcome delivered by such a unit is simply fascinating, original and intriguing in its multifaceted geometry, defined by the musicians themselves as "manoeuvers through woody sounds created by individual movements and decision, free from classical pattern, a multi-layered variations of personal expressive will and power". Then, some time you've got the sonic wave increasing until the water is getting white, crashing towards the listener with the three instruments strictly tied like a Macedonian phalanx, some time the power is fragmented and you see a deployment of several rivers of sound, before rejoining together in full force. The ability of the cellos to draw an ongoing elliptical crossing or to be refracted in a mirror game is amazing, a sort of labyrinth where in any moment you feel yourself overwhelmed by the brute force of the music but before getting totally lost, one of the cellos shines a small light to be followed in order to get a safer, even tough never comfortable, place. 

Don't get us wrong, the ride on this rollercoaster is never scary but rather thrilling and exciting: a challenging experience for open minds and souls, as you, readers, certainly are.