Sometimes we may move towards the fringes of jazz or free improv. This beautiful album is more avant-garde classical, yet nevertheless of posssible interest to the readers of this blog. The musicians are Ida Toninato on baritone sax, hailing from Strasbourg in France, and Jennifer Thiessen, playing viola d’amore, and hailing from Manitoba in Canada.
Thiessen is very active in modern classical music and in baroque music with the ensemble Cénacle, she even if she took some steps into pop music with her band Daily Alice.
Toninato comes from a more experimental background, exploring reverberant spaces with uncommon acoustics, with her solo debut album Strangeness Is Gratitude as a wonderful example of that approach. She also works with Ana Dall’Ara-Majek as Jane/KIN, creating performances that mix spatialisation and improvisation.
Their music is spacious, calm, intense, slowly and cautiously progressing, creating timbres and resonance and pursuing them further as they grow and change. In contrast to even modern classical music, there are no obvious patterns or melodies to discern, but a drone-like shimmering of solemn sounds that explore each other around a space of silence. Despite their differences in background and perspective, both musicians find each other perfectly in the deep and central register of their instruments, which are almost always played with a gentle traditional approach.
On the last track Toninato adds some wordless singing and even if I usually hate this, somehow it works here.
It’s great to hear two young musicians perform in a duo with unusual instruments and coming from different perspectives and continents, and find such a strong common ground and sound. The whole album is solid and with a clear central vision on their music: coherent, beautifully performed and with a unique sound. They find each other in the space between them, and they delight us. What more do you want?