Tori Freestone and Alcyona Mick- Make One Little Room an Everywhere
(Self-released / Bandcamp link below. Album review by Jon Turney)
This is a superb follow up to Tori Freestone and Alcyona Mick’s acclaimed first duo album, Criss Cross – the lockdown allusion in the title partly accounts for the five-year gap since that release. It seems fair to say that their already rich partnership has deepened in the interim. The saxophonist (Freestone) and pianist’s skills are here brought to bear on a pleasing range of material, new and old, with absorbing results.
Freestone’s Novello award-winning Birds of Paradise features Brigitte Beraha’s wordless vocal and the composer’s brilliant flute. It’s a worthy addition to the long catalogue of avian-inspired music, with piano trills underlining the bird-like effects. Beraha also features on an airily spacious reworking of the title track from Freestone’s trio album, El Mar de Nubes, allowing the words the composer wrote to evoke a moonlit night in Tenerife to be heard.
A different voice alters the atmosphere on Freestone’s ‘Who We are Now’, where Mick’s frequent collaborator and world music star Natacha Atlas establishes the Eastern-leaning lilt that is maintained by the duo. It’s a welcome injection of spice into a selection that already has plenty of variety in its use of flute and saxophone alongside the piano, and mix of self-penned and standard material. They Can’t Take That Away From Me considers turning into Tea for Two then thinks better of it, while Beraha returns for the closer, a Freestone favourite, Both Sides Now.
Among the changes of pace and mood, though, the quality that stands out is the understanding between the two principals, both players who combine multiple influences from beyond the typical jazz landscape and fold them joyously into their composing and improvising.
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There are solo flights here, and those pieces where the vocalists enlarge the sound. But on several tracks Freestone and Mick on sax and keys enter that duo zone where close musical collaboration turns into symbiosis: easy to seek, hard to achieve. Naturally, they are responding to one another second-by-second, but neither appears to lead or follow: they are simply co-creating the flow. It’s a sensation that accompanies only the best jazz. It’s one I fancy may be more accessible to duos than other formations. But only the best duos, a category in which this pairing are now firmly established.
LINKS : Make One Little Room... on Bandcamp / Release Date 30 Sept
The London launch gig is at the Vortex on 26 October