Ibid: Spaces In Between

Sydney-based piano, flute and drums duo plays improvised and composed music touching on jazz, classical and folk

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Improvisation is the key to – and often a stand-alone feature in – the work of exciting Australian composer and jazz musician Keyna Wilkins. In 2020 she spectacularly transmogrified J S Bach in a solo piano album (reviewed here) on which his contrapuntal classics were filtered through the alembic of Miles Davis’s So What.

The ever-active Wilkins – who leads the Ephemera Ensemble, writes orchestral music and is a presence on the Sydney jazz scene – has formed a duo with the equally stimulating drummer Shane Carpini to pursue extemporised music that from the start creates proverbial sounds of surprise.

The duo’s first album follows Wilkins’s interest in cosmology, philosophy and what the pair on Spaces In Between call “stream of consciousness” improvisation. That might be thought a redundant description if it were not for the way each of the 14 tracks, even the formally composed ones by both, depends not on traditional signposted changes but on exploratory, almost wall-of-sound, invention of consistently high quality, and marked by internal shifts of temperament.

The pair do earthy as well as heavenly, and there’s a strong sense in which Wilkins’s multi-layered flute and minimalist piano is anchored in firm ground by Carpini’s resourceful way with the kit. As Prelude demonstrates, Wilkins is never resistant to the rigour embodied in Bach – it’s the D Minor prelude – and responds with pedal motifs and cataract chords, arpeggiated wistfulness in a central section, and then a keyboard storm aided and abetted by Carpini.

The drummer makes the initial calls to attention on Voyage In The Void and Riding Gravity, and the raindrop piano notes of the latter intensify into something antiphonal just as the long-breathed flute phrases of the former merge with drums into the album’s familiar feeling of acute spatial awareness. The poetry of Sunrise, like a flower opening, reflects Distant Starlight, in which the flute is seemingly alone but not lost in space at start and finish.

Wilkins and Carpini find endless inspiration in their personal contributions and in the way they continuously and productively seek the other out for combined stellar discovery.

This self-produced album has a cover design by Wilkins’s young daughter, Lyra Rosen.


Discography
Distant Starlight; Sunrise; Haarmony; Stellar Parallax; Divergence; Riding Gravity; Orion; Voyage In The Void; Dance Of Light; Hollow Spirits; Hotpot; Prelude (in D Minor); The Expanse; Ulterior Motive (74.30)
Keyna Wilkins (f, p); Shane Carpini (d). Sydney, January 2023.
ibidartist.com