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«Live / Studio»
«Hunt at the Brook Again / Hunt at the Brook with Neil Metcalfe»
A NEW WAVE OF JAZZ, nwoj0061

Live / Studio captures meetings of two British free improvisers – Phil Durrant on octave mandolin (he is a multi-instrumentalist who also plays modular synth, laptop and viola) and Daniel Thompson, who is a generation younger and largely self-taught, on Acoustic guitar (and the founder and director of the free improv label, Empty Birdcage Records). This album is the debut album of these established and resourceful improvisers. The beautiful cover artwork is by Finch WF Thompson.

There is nothing folky in the music of this duo despite the acoustic instruments. The first, live improvisation, a 35-minute piece was recorded at Cafe OTO in London in January 2022. It is a cerebral and uncompromising exploration of the sonic palettes of the octave mandolin and the acoustic guitar, obviously, with an array of extended techniques. This piece stresses the tight and tense, conversational dynamics of the duo that shift within and between close textural territories. The following, shorter six improvisations offer more intimate and patient dynamics of Durrant and Thompson that flirt – briefly – with playful and rhythmic gestures and even lyrical themes.

The double album Hunt at the Brook Again / Hunt at the Brook with Neil Metcalfe features Thompson in a trio in the first album with clarinetist Tom Jackson and violist Benedict Taylor, recorded at Stamford Brook in London in April 2019, and in a quartet in the second album, with the addition of veteran flutist Neil Metcalfe (known for his ongoing work with Paul Dunamll and the London Improvisers Orchestra), recorded at the same location a month later. Engineer Dave Hunt captured both sessions. The album’s title also refers to the first recording of the trio of Jackson, Taylor and Thompson, Hunt at the Brook (FMR, 2015), recorded at the same place, and by Hunt.

The trio brings a chamber sensibility to free improvisation and suggests a delicate and introspective exchange of ideas. These six improvisations flow organically and are much more relaxed and playful, rich with extended techniques, and often create a hypnotic and poetic, collective sound painting, as Guy Peters observed in his liner notes. These improvisations also balance the joyful spontaneity of the moment with the sensibility of instant composition. The four quartet improvisations introduce an intense and restless, risk-taking dimension to the intimate and chamber dynamics of the trio but the quartet finds its balance immediately. These improvisations create a collective tapestry of ideas and gestures, again, as complex compositions, with pure lyricism, especially on the third improvisation, and surprising elegance.

Eyal Hareuveni

Phil Durrant (octave mandola), Daniel Thompson (acoustic guitar), Tom Jackson (clarinet), Neil Metcalfe (flute), Benedict Taylor (viola)