1. Her Exacting Light
2. Life on Cloud 8
3. Ending Red Songs
4. Freud's Convertible
6. Frontiers in Science
7. Rooftops Speak Dreams
9. Adjusting to Midnight
10. Live Sports
12. I Could Have Danced All Night
Jane Ira Bloom - Soprano sax, live electronics
Dawn Clement - Piano, Fender Rhodes
Mark Helias - Bass
Bobby Previte - Drums
I had pigeon-holed Jane Ira Bloom as an avant garde musician. Indeed, she has said that she wants "to bring more avant garde improvising to people who don't usually listen to it". This new album may well achieve that goal, as it is not too way out to frighten any listeners away. The soprano saxophone can be an off-puttingly shrill instrument but Bloom's tone is generally sweet enough not to be ear-piercing. And she is cushioned by the delicacy of Dawn Clement's keyboards. In tracks like Ending Red Songs, Dawn coaxes a liquid sound out of the piano, which makes the music more accessible.
Jane wrote all but one of the tracks and I can't say they are the sort of tunes you'll find yourself whistling in the street. Rather they sound like meditations which are lyrical and spacious enough to be melodically appealing. Some faster pieces remind one of Thelonious Monk's deliberate waywardness - for example, Live Sports, which has a persistent riff behind Bloom's sax tripping up and down stairs.
Freud's Convertible might be described as a blues, even when Bloom uses electronics to vary the sax sound and soar into outer space, while bass and drums patter happily along in her wake. Having heard drummer Bobby Previte playing pretentiously vacuous free improv in the past, I feared that he would mar the balance of the music but in fact he is very restrained and seldom intrusive. Mark Helias lays down some clear bass lines as reference points.
Frontiers in Science takes us into avant garde territory, with what sounds like a fairly free performance moving up and down unpredictably, albeit with a firm bass line. Rooftops Make Dreams returns us to meditative lyricism, which can also be experienced in Adjusting to Midnight and the title-track.
The album ends with Jane performing I Could Have Danced All Night unaccompanied and at a slow tempo which lets her (and us) savour the melody's potential. There is also a bonus called Wingwalker Singularity - a kind of six-minute medley built up from parts of the album. It's an MP3 attachment which you can download onto your computer.
Being an avant garde denier, I was pleasantly surprised by this album, which should appeal to a wide listenership.