Lucid Culture


Thin Air Tango – Spacious and Sometimes Spooky

Thin Air Tango is Jeff Covell on piano and Ed Fiorenza on saxophones, playing compositions and improvisations on outer space themes. Their new album is out now on Original Copy Records. Covell’s graceful short works lean toward third-stream minimalism: Fiorenza’s crystalline tone memorably enhances Covell’s steady but distant, intriguingly off-center walks and chordal clusters. The opening Nebula Suite is aptly titled, a suite of nocturnes that move from spacious, simple, matter-of-fact solo piano, embellish it rhythmically and then finally bring in soprano sax, casually coalescing a couple of intriguing verse/chorus patterns before bringing it to an end. This could have gone longer and still maintained interest – and maybe it does, when the two play it live.

The Sakura Suite begins with Elegy for Joe Viola, mostly just vividly wistful soprano sax, Covell adding a somewhat ominous, murky chordal undercurrent as the piece winds out. Tango di Callisto is sort of a tango in outer space, avoiding resolution, the casual chill of Fiorenza’s nebulously acidic lines vivid against Covell’s increasingly insistent, magnetic piano. Sakura, Sakura begins absolutely inaudibly, to the point where the question of whether the cd is still playing arises. But then stately piano and Fiorenza’s elegaic lines join together in an absolutely gorgeous, plaintive rendition of the Japanese folk song with a handful of clever quotes that work marvelously.

Named after one of the moons of Jupiter, the Europa Suite, a free improvisation, picks up the pace. It’s long, almost forty minutes, and as intense as it gets, the warm camaraderie between the two musicians remains strong. Covell intimates danger with his solo intro, then the two exploring a dark, Ran Blake-esque gospel-tinged theme that Covell expands with a furtive intensity as Fiorenza’s tenor sax holds the center while matter-of-factly reaching for higher velocity and tonal contrasts. The sax takes over the eerie chromatics for awhile, Covell leapfrogging them judiciously before taking it into viscerally icy terrain with a macabre, David Lynchian edge. All in all, this makes for great late-night listening: kill the lights and set your sonic sights on Jupiter.

November 24, 2011 Posted by | jazz, Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment