Renee Rosnes – Beloved Of The Sky – Smoke Sessions Records

Powerful and evocative music from a singular post modern quintet.

Renee Rosnes – Beloved Of The Sky – Smoke Sessions Records SSR-1801 61:13****:

( Renee Rosnes – piano; Chris Potter – saxophones & flute; Steve Nelson – vibraphone; Peter Washington – bass; Lenny White – drums)

Emily Carr, born in British Columbia, Canada, before the turn of the Twentieth Century, was a Modernist, Post-Impressionist painter, whose canvas Scorned As Timber, Beloved Of The Sky adorns the album cover of pianist Renee Rosnes new release “Beloved Of The Sky”. Although not born in British Columbia, Rosnes was raised there and would have come to know, appreciate, and be informed by Carr’s work. Hence, this is the frame around which the album is built.

Canadian artists, be they pianists or painters, frequently struggle for recognition beyond Canada’s borders. Carr was no different. Although Carr was described as a “Canadian icon” it was many years after her death in 1945 that her works gained a measure of international recognition. Pianist Rosnes has fared somewhat better. Firstly, she is still alive and her success has come after she moved to New York in 1985, where she began working with a number of top ranked jazz leaders such as Joe Henderson, Wayne Shorter, Bobby Hutcherson, and J.J. Johnson.

In many ways, this release is a musical canvas, wherein Rosnes like Carr, is drawing her creativity from multiple sources to offer stylishly arranged music. With first rate instrumental cohorts, the complexity of the compositions pose no impediments and are beautifully executed. With the exception of “Rosie” by Bobby Hutcherson and “The Winter Of My Discontent” by Alec Wilder and Ben Ross Berenberg all the other compositions were penned by Renee Rosnes.

Renee Rosnes; photo by John Abbot

This recorded “live” session starts out with “ Elephant Dust” and it begins in cacophonous fashion lead by Chris Potters tenor sax for multiple choruses. Rosnes follows along in a gear-jumping vein, to be complimented by Steve Nelson’s vibes that dig a percussive trench to once again be augmented by Potter’s tenor sax. The title track ”Scorned As Timber, Beloved Of The Sky” is a haunting exposition that combines Potter’s soprano sax and Nelson’s vibes to deliver a story that is both searing and propulsive.

There had been a long working relationship between Rosnes and Bobby Hutcherson, so his composition “Rosie” written for his wife Rosemary, seemed to be natural fit to be included in this session. It is performed as an evocative vessel of emotion with strong solos from Potter, Rosnes and especially vibist Nelson who flexes his inspirational range. “The Flame And The Lotus” is a ruminative composition with an easy flow and a blues undercurrent. Lenny White’s interesting march style drumming keeps pushing the number forwards while Rosnes, Nelson and Potter interact without a perfunctory feel.

“Now is the winter of our discontent” so sayeth William Shakespeare in his tragedy Richard III. With a slight change of wording by composer Alec Wilder and lyricist Ben Ross Berenberg it now becomes a ballad “The Winter Of My Discontent”. The number opens with a stark lengthy solo from Rosnes. Potter’s tenor saxophone then picks up the line in svelte fashion after which Peter Washington shows off his big toned bass technique. Potter and Rosnes then take the number out in purposeful fashion.

The album closes with “Let The Wild Rumpus Start” which may be the closest to a “head” arrangement on the disc. With Washington digging deep with a strong bass offering, and White giving his drum kit a workout, the other principals play with a vibrant expressive enthusiasm.

TrackList: Elephant Dust; Scorned As Timber, Beloved Of The Sky; Mirror Image; Rosie; Black Holes; The Flame And The Lotus; Rhythm Of The River; The Winter Of My Discontent; Let The Wild Rumpus Start

—Pierre Giroux

 

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