Friday, September 26, 2014

Anna Webber - SIMPLE

Anna Webber
Skirl Records

Anna Webber - Tenor saxophone, flute, alto flute
Matt Mitchell - Piano, prepared piano
John Hollenbeck - Drums, percussion

SIMPLE is at once an apt and a misleading title for this CD. Saxophonist/flautist Webber, a new name to me, has attracted a couple of A-listers in Mitchell and Hollenbeck for her project, and upon listening it’s easy to see why they wanted to be on board – there’s a lot to sink your teeth into.

Ms. Webber uses only the three instruments to fulfill her compositional vision over the seven tracks of the album. However, she deploys an impressive variety of approaches to the material, from quieter minimalist passages to themes stated in unison to knotty full-bore free improv.

Using only woodwinds, piano and drums creates a lot of open space in the music, and Webber plays in and around the compositions, suggesting they could unspool infinitely. Her tone on tenor is malleable, bending and stretching notes in a way that calls to mind the spirit, if not the exact style, of a young David Murray.

Shifting effortlessly and seamlessly from composed to improvised sections, intricate is the word that best sums up her approach, and if that seems to be contrary to the title of the album, somehow it all fits. She makes the complex simple, which as we all know is harder than making the simple complex.

As soon as SIMPLE had finished, I started over and immediately listened to it again. Now that’s the sign of a good record!

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