Flying off the handle and back again, a pair of intrepid jazzists take a futuristic trip to the past.
As two acoustic performers who found themselves entertaining audiences when various electric bands fell victims of circumstances on-stage, it’s hardly surprising that drummer Kim Zick and sax player Juli Wood gravitated towards each other in creative terms – one would wonder, though, why it’s taken the ladies a quarter-century to come up with a joint effort. Well, “effort” can’t be the right word for what they do, because “Carnival Of Souls” feels so easy despite the music’s complexity: a logical outcome for a homage to such jazz heroes as Roach and Shepp or Jones and Coltrane – the obvious influences refracted through the filter of our times.
Mostly improvised, there’s fresh immediacy to these performances, even those clocking in in under a minute. Still, while the deceptively abstract “River Of Doubt” is quietly expansive and “Carl S” is streaming its cosmic consciousness rather sparsely, the pair’s joviality will be condensed to deliver a brief “Showtime” and to overtly tether a whimsical tune of “Commotion Z” – another energetic number, along with the finale of “Cecil’s Waterfowl Ranch” – to trad genre. Yes, elegy is firmly set in the warming heart of “Outer Limits” which tests the water, as if to fathom how far a groove may go along with plaintive reeds, before the title track reveals a frivolous aspect of the duo’s call-and-response. Yet after this piece’s intro Kim will frantically alternate between cymbals and snare and Juli ventures for a solo blare once her partner-in-crime’s splashes hit the silence and try and blend into the background – unsuccessfully, of course.
One may sniff exotica in “Zoila” whose soprano tones and unhurried tempo are Latin-flavored, but it’s “Whisper Zone” and “Judy” that provide the pair with a comfortable platform for melodic flexibility and let Wood and Zick slowly shape a captivating soundscape – as rimshots and brass strokes lay a trap for a nigh-on-gained momentum. Unlike Kim’s previous release, "Truth" by MRS. FUN which was all variety-centered, “Carnival Of Souls” is deep and kaleidoscopic, offering a new angle with each new spin, so here’s hoping it’s not a one-off endeavor.