Wild Lines: Improvising Emily Dickinson
The latest recording by the soprano saxophone master is a two-cd recording that are improvisations inspired by poems of Emily Dickinson. One of the two discs has instrumental performances by her quartet of pianist Dawn Clement, bassist Mark Helias and drummer Bobby Previte while on the second disc the quartet is heard with Deborah Rush's recitation of the poems.
Listening to this one is of course struck by the clarity and tone of Ms. Bloom's soprano as well as the logic, imagination and invention of her compositions and her solos not to mention the complementary playing and support her excellent band provides whether the lyricism and drive of pianist Clement, Helias anchoring of the groove and Previte's groove keeping as well as adding rhythmic accents. It starts with "Emily & Her Atoms," with shifts in tempo as well as the group dynamics changing as Helias takes a solo. On "Alone & In a Circumstance," we are again impressed by the command Bloom displays and one only need to listen to a couple selections to understand why she is so highly regarded.
The second disc brings together Deborah Rush and the quartet with a recitation sometimes being a brief line as in "Wild Lines." Her recitations open the performances on the second disc with Clement lightly comping or Previte providing a light pulse for "Emily & Her Atoms," "Alone & In a Circumstance," and "Dangerous Times." After her recitation, the quartet starts in a restrained manner but slowly builds in intensity exhibiting the same lyricism, drive, charm and imagination as on the all instrumental disc. This formula is not followed on every selection. For example "A Star Not Far Enough," has the recitation following the quartet with Bloom's sax adding coloring during the recitation." There are so many pleasures such as her solo on "Dangerous Times," with swirling, then extended lines, or Previte's marching drum lines as Rush recites a celebration of the circus coming to town "Singing the Triangle," before Helias kicks off the quartet's response.
The performances range from cerebral to highly animated ("Big Bill"), but all exquisitely played.
This writer had the pleasure of seeing Jane Ira Bloom and her quartet along with Ms. Rush perform some of the selections here at the Kennedy Center at was a thoroughly enchanting evening. The superb performances on these two discs have the same magic as was witnessed live. Highly recommended.
I received review copy from a publicist. This review originally appeared in the November-December 2017 Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 375). Here is a selection from the recording.