The luscious musical imagery at work here on Murphy by Carn Davidson 9 will have a lasting impression on the mind’s ear with its myriad layers of sound plucked out of thin air by the woodwinds and brass alternating with hushed interludes of intense muted lyricism. The title of the recording marks praise for the cat shared by William Carn and Tara Davidson and is a most appropriate celebration of the mysterious ways of ‘the cat’. The music, at times, calls to mind the grand manner of Gil Evans in its blue-flamed swing and in the multiple layers and sound created by weaving, in turn, multiple textures of winds and brass. Leaving out the supreme melodic-harmonic-rhythmic instrument – the piano – is a philosophical leap in the dark, really. However, you might only begin to miss it – if ever – long after the music is over.
The lyrical machinations of the wind and brass instrument are most masterfully exploited by both William Carn and Tara Davidson in their writing (Ernesto Cervini, Andrew Downing, Geoff Young, Jason Logue and Andy Ballantyne do account for an arrangement each). And every one of the eight works of this Carn Davidson 9 disc magnificently sum up the musical accomplishments of the trombonist and the saxophonist. If I may be allowed to indulge myself – and I can’t see how one can resist doing so – “Family Portrait” and “Glassman” are particular favourites from among these works scored for chamber wind and brass ensemble (plus the voice of Emilie-Claire Barlow on the latter; a voice that always seems to glide into our world from a rarefied realm, I might add). But the almost one-hour of music flows in a stream of endless melody, seemingly running virtually unbroken throughout.
Of course there are soli, but they last just a chorus and some, and star turns by each of the musicians are so surreptitious that one hardly notices them until after they’ve returned from the expedition. Perhaps it’s just as well that this is so. It’s hard to imagine this music played that sounds so perfect any other way than in the dynamic momentum of this moving sonic feast. Tara Davidson and William Carn (leading these musicians) have together created a virtuoso chamber superstructure whose luscious details suggest the teeming life of the musician in all its protean glory.
Track list – 1: Try Again; 2: Family Portrait; 3: Glassman; 4: Murphy’s Law; 5: Second Act (For Ron); 6: Reason, Season, Lifetime; 7: Colebourn; 8: Murphy!
Personnel – Tara Davidson: alto and soprano saxophone, flute and clarinet; Kelly Jefferson: tenor and soprano saxophone, and clarinet; Perry White: baritone saxophone and bass clarinet; Jason Logue: trumpet and flugelhorn; Kevin Turcotte: trumpet and flugelhorn; William Carn: trombone; Alex Duncan: bass trombone; Andrew Downing: bass; Ernesto Cervini: drums; Special Guest – Emilie-Claire Barlow: voice (3)
Released – 2017
Label – Independent
Runtime – 58:04