52 Jazz Tracks for 2021, 52. ‘Couple in Spirit’. Keith and Julie Tippett, 1987

The last(*) of Jon Turney’s weekly selections highlights a creative partnership of the first order.

How to finish this series? The first of these pieces – back when 2021 felt like it might just see continuing lockdown – harked back to Carla Bley, and an album that showed Julie Tippetts’ voice at its finest.

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So does this one, with Keith Tippett, in the improvised duo format that they returned to in performance as long as Keith lived, but was rarely recorded. I have a lasting affection for Julie’s earlier solo album, Sunset Glow, but this entirely improvised effort has a special kind of purity.

Even more so, in a way, on the vocal only track (Brimstone Spring Lullaby, starting at 5:30). The quality of the voice here puts me in mind of the great Jeanne Lee, who I’d not encountered in 1988. But the whole LP is the product of two immensely talented people who have thought deeply about music-making and developed their art together over years of study. That allowed them to make something spontaneously that retains a timeless appeal.

The original notes stress that they considered this a unified performance, that ought to be heard in one go. I agree – so here’s side one. For the rest you’ll need to track down the old vinyl, I think, but if anyone finds a link do pass it on.

(*) Sebastian writes: I would like to thank Jon for producing special versions of these fifty-two pieces for LJN…one for every week of 2021…every Monday morning since January without fail…and flawless copy every time.


More on this recording on Jon’s Bristol Jazz Log

Read Jon’s introduction to the ’52 tracks’ series

Week 51. Big Jim Does the Tango for You, Bennie Wallace.

Spotify playlist for the series

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