Stephan Crump & James Carney – Echo Run Pry (CF 199) ****
Last year pianist James Carney released an excellent modern jazz CD, “Ways And Means”, yet what he does here on this album with bassist Stephan Crump is of a totally different nature. Gone are the compositions and the arrangements, gone is the solid ground under their feet, gone are the planification and the known endpoints.
On two pieces of a little more than twenty minutes, the two musicians explore the sounds of their instruments with lots of extended techniques, slowly, patiently, yet full of the excitement of the mutual discovery, sometimes building in rhythmic moments like little dance movements, spontaneously, then switching back to normal walking, doing the more serious stuff. That’s the kind of freshness and joy that you find here.
Yet within the same piece, they will also delve into other emotions: Crump’s arco on the second half of the first piece will bring tears to your eyes, while the piano adds the very sparse keys to accentuate the desolation and loneliness, evolving into more romantic yet equally expressive piano playing.
The second piece is even more minimalist and quiet, it is intimate, very “European” in approach, abstract yet lyrical, gradually picking up a sense of urgency and tension, utterly refined, and with a kind of universal aesthetic that will appeal to all true lovers of music, including more traditional jazz fans and afficionados of classical music. But then it might also be that I have lost all sense of reality.
In any case : grand in its intimate power.