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Monday, July 14, 2014

CD Review: Blacktop - # One

Orphy Robinson (marimba), Pat Thomas (piano, keyboards, computer beats) & Steve Williamson (tenor & soprano saxophones)
(Review by Russell)
Orphy Robinson and Pat Thomas formed Blacktop in 2011. A duo with invited guests, the CD # One features the tenor and soprano saxophones of Steve Williamson. Recorded ‘live’ at an accommodating London venue – Jazz in the Round @ The Cockpit Theatre – the trio set is a first rate example of freely improvised performance. Williamson’s playing – tenor or soprano – has a wistful, distant quality, dropping in and out, swirling around Robinson’s marimba and variously responding to, then avoiding, Thomas’ computer generated beats and tumultuous piano playing.
Robinson’s marimba builds measured, rhythmic patterns undeterred by the frequently frantic excursions of his collaborators, none more so than on the second of three pieces – Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?  Williamson’s often distant sound (of cathedral-like dimensions) is subject to Thomas’ playful electronic interjections. A responsive, riled soprano, responds as if the occupant of a disturbed hornets’ nest. Measured marimba seeks resolution, piano taunts, at first falling in line, then, this being Pat Thomas, things go crazy. Robinson’s marimba gives as good as it gets, Williamson’s soprano engages in the animated conversation, a flourish of descending figures arrive at a sudden end.
The closing short piece – Archaic Nubian Stepdub – evolves out of Thomas’ scene-setting loops. Williamson’s soprano rides on Robinson’s response to the loop. No sooner has a riff been established, an end is signalled. All three musicians stop as if by prior arrangement.    
The CD’s running time is forty two minutes – a case of quality not quantity.
# One by Blacktop is released on July 14 on the Babel Label (BDV14128)
Russell.

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