«Sound Hotel» is the fourth documentation of the ongoing collaboration of Australian pianist Alister Spence and Scottish sax player Raymond MacDonald, a founding member of the Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra (GIO). Spence and Macdonald have been working together now for more than ten years. Spence and his trio participated in the GIO workshop in 2006. Later both toured Japan with Raymond MacDonald International Big Band (documented on «Buddy», Textile Records, 2010) and the United Kingdom with bass player Joe Williamson and drummer Christopher Cantillo. On 2011 they recorded their first duo album in Glasgow, «Stepping Between the Shadows» (Rufus Records, 2013).
«Sound Hotel» was recorded as a live – straight to disc – one day session at the Reid Hall in Edinburgh in April 2016. This album demonstrates beautifully how a musical relationship of two experienced improvisers keeps developing and exploring new, deeper means of communication. The set of seven duets highlights the emphatic sense of deep listening of this session. Spence and MacDonald play and listen patiently, with no attempt to rush any idea, committing themselves only to the music of the moment and letting each piece follow its inner logic . Both comment and expand on each other sonic thoughts, as close, intimate friends who share many secrets.
The duets offer different dynamics. «Sun Mirror» and «Ocean» develop organically and slowly, but «Sun Mirror» reaches a dissonant catharsis while «Ocean» maintains a dense, conversational atmosphere where the extended breathing techniques of MacDonald spiral into the the resonant piano playing of Spence . «Small Pulse» sketches an almost silent and transparent Morton Feldman-esque minimalist texture. «Dark Wing» suggests a playful interplay, still, quite an ethereal one. Spence and MacDonald sings gently the ballad «Phosphorescence» and deepen this emotional vein on «Foot on Sand» but now in a restless, urgent mode.
Alister Spence (p), Raymond MacDonald (as, ss)