wed 23/04/2014

CD: Trish Clowes - And in the night-time she is there | New music reviews, news & interviews

CD: Trish Clowes - And in the night-time she is there

Tenor saxist impresses with distinctive melodic fingerprint and ear for textural detail

Trish Clowes ranges from the austere to the ecstatic

Enthusiasts of the tenor sax will find it impossible not to be swayed by this terrific follow-up to Trish Clowes' impressive 2010 debut, Tangent. Apart from her highly distinctive melodic fingerprint, it's the composer's terrific ear for textural detail that really draws you into this 10-track collection: the ever-so-subtle cello harmonics that underpin the intro to album opener “Atlas”, the constant ticking of “On/Off”, the ghostly violin figurations enfolding the bass solo in “Animator”.

The album's sole song is typically individual and about as far from the Great American Songbook as you can get. Clowes sets eight couplets from Oscar Wilde’s fin-de-siècle symbolist poem, “The Sphinx”, capturing the almost dream-like nature of the speaker's monologue in a challenging melodic line - vertiginous leaps here, tricky rhythmic details there – that's navigated with some style by vocalist Kathleen Willison. The concluding phrase of the third couplet provides the album's title.

Dedicated to her grandmother, the three-movement "Iris Nonet" sees Clowes exploring the larger textural palette offered when her own quartet - drummer James Maddren, Troyka guitarist Chris Montague and bassist Calum Gourlay - is joined by star pianist Gwilym Simcock and an improvising string quartet led by violinist (and leader of the Aurora Orchestra and Britten Sinfonia), Thomas Gould. Powerful, lyrical and with a sound-world that ranges from the austere to the ecstatic, this proves to be incredibly fertile ground for the composer.

With just Montague's deft guitar chording as a backdrop, the saxophonist seems to channel something of Lester Young's melodic sensibility in the concluding “Little Tune”. It's utterly lovely and, little or not, something that I'm sure we'll be hearing a lot more of in the future.

And in the night-time she is there is officially launched at Kings Place on Saturday 29 September.

Watch Trish Clowes perform "On/Off" at the 2011 Cheltenham Jazz Festival:

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