Canadian improvised music is rather an unknown quantity in the UK. But I’m familiar with the work of Brodie West, saxophonist on the present album and a leading exponent, whose music I’ve described as complex, creative and loose. That’s true of the work of the musicians he’s working with here. The lineup has been together for 18 years, releasing seven albums, and Lina Allemano’s new album is exciting, eventful music of high quality.
As Allemano explains by email, her two main biggest trumpet influences from early days are Miles Davis and Freddie Hubbard; and as a composer, Thelonious Monk and Wayne Shorter.
Pipe Dream opens with three stand-alone pieces, including the outstanding Dragon Fruit. The title track is based on a theme from Prokofiev’s 3rd Symphony.
The album’s second half is a four-track suite, Plague Diaries, each part of which has distinctive solos from Allemano, West, Downing and Fraser respectively. In the brief Intro: Longing the unaccompanied trumpeter presents the theme that circles hypnotically – reiterated memorably by the quartet in the main part of the piece. The explosive Intro: Trying Not To Freak Out features solo alto saxophone. Hunger And Murder is a haunting dirge, preceded by an intro featuring arco bass as unaccompanied instrument.
Doom And Doomer is a fitting climax to the album. It opens with a fiery drum solo by Nick Fraser, followed by a march-like groove with anthemic trumpet and saxophone, that becomes more intense as it enters a stormy climax. A richly rewarding release.
Banana Canon; Pipe Dream (On Prokofiev Theme); Dragon Fruit; [Plague Diaries, Part I.] Intro: Longing; [Plague Diaries, Part I.] Longing; [Plague Diaries, Part II.] Intro: Trying Not To Freak Out; [Plague Diaries, Part II.] Trying Not To Freak Out; [Plague Diaries, Part III.] Intro: Hunger And Murder; [Plague Diaries, Part III.] Hunger And Murder; [Plague Diaries, Part IV.] Doom And Doomer (50.58)
Allemano (t); Brodie West (as); Andrew Downing (b); Nick Fraser (d). Toronto, 18-19 February 2021.
Lumo Records LM 2023-14