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STEVE TROMANS & MARK SANDERS
Mountains, Meditations, Murmurations
(2023 - Discus Music - UK)
In my eyes (and especially my ears) I am always highly impressed when an album (even a song) is noted to be 'Free Improvisation' yet sounds so precise and wonderful you take it in as if it was all composed and fully planned. This is one such release. First of all it speaks loudly about the long and varied experience of all the musicians at hand, and then it rates high on the skill level of these artists. The ability to instantly grab dozens of ideas coming out into the ether, all players hearing the subtle change or single note (s) that move or push the piece in another direction, perhaps even escalate the music to another region from where it began. For lesser musicians, anything on this order would be tough to get through, but on 'Mountains, Meditations, Murmurations' the pleasure center is fully touched (even massaged).
What a wide open first track that brings on the golden years (mid 1970's) of ECM, and forgive me to all the unaware, but parts reminds of a more developed Shadowfax (if you have not heard their debut then do not judge this statement) off the 'Watercourse Way' (back in 1976 on the Passport label) where no signs of the 'New Age' tag were present, that this American progressive rock jazz fusion band got sucked into after this first release. In short, the works on this beautiful and stunning Steve Tromans & Mark Sanders duo is absolutely perfect. If Rainer Brüninghaus and Jon Christensen had put out a duo, this very well might have sounded as fine. And spots of Oregon and other ECM acts with John Taylor (piano) could be brought up. Just references mind you. The fluidity and meticulous performance of these two masters is beyond reproach to say the least. Tromans (piano) has a library list several miles long stretching from working with Elton Dean, Evan Parker, and Paul Dunmall (so many more), and same goes for Sanders (drums and percussion) who also worked with Elton Dean and has a varied project resume with folks like Jah Wobble and dozens of other notable musical gurus. It should be noted that these two have previously worked together on a few projects including Tromans’ Birmingham-Chicago Improvisers’ Ensemble and Sid Peacock’s Surge Orchestra. The wide scope of atmospheres and landscapes is nearly unbelievable. The divided (but so wonderfully arranged in a seamless order) pieces of Mountains, Meditations, and Murmurations could not have been improved upon by any stretch of the imagination.
To top off the package (the physical CD of course) the artwork inside and out (a gatefold digipak and also a picture disc) is presented by the fantastic Greek artist Silena Lena called 'City Lights In The Liquid Town'. Much appreciation for Martin Archer who continues to package the Discus label CD releases in the clean plastic sleeve (the discs) and beautiful art. And most of all, the high quality music that has always been released on his label. 'Mountains, Meditations, Murmurations' will turn heads and give older ECM lovers something to reflect about, as well as the mixture of the more subtle and contrasting lauded moments. The extraordinary result is what perks up the listeners ears from the first seconds to the end. The unity and continuity is part of the brilliance, and from passages that dance, to those that go to a quiet place and ponder, the journey is stimulating. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!.
©Reviewed by Lee Henderson 8 - 12 - 2023
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