(Another Timbre)

It’s not a given that the pairing of a voice and a piano provide interesting results and, from this point of view, there are indeed renowned couples using those expressive means that are eventually more respectable for the seriousness of their single components’ artistic paths than the music they produce in those occasions (you do the maths and come up with the names). But Tasting is definitely on another level and I’m firmly convinced, after only three listens, that this is one of the best piano/vocals duos that I’ve ever heard. While Phil Minton’s poetry of the unexpected gratifies via large quantities of systematically fulfilled expectations – featuring monstrous technical expertise, irony and drama a go-go, providential multiphonic nefariousness and hair-splitting precision – it must be told that Agnel is the true revelation here. The pianist is gifted in fact with a unique style that fuses the inside and the outside parts of the instrument into a provocative communion of fermentable sketches, mixing the abrasive rubbing and the soft hammering and plucking of the strings with Minton’s overtone singing in masterful fashion, respecting the dynamic palette with few touches and scarce chords, building cathedrals of emotional intensity and fuliginous fumes of harmonic suspension with effortless ingeniousness. The six tracks of Tasting, recorded in 2006 at the Jazz a Poitiers Festival, are examples of a creativity that can be fresh-sounding and cinematic at one and the same time, sort of a documentary about the secret life of an uncommon kind of creature inhabiting the obscure sections of this vocal/instrumental microcosm. Still, no assertion can really express the wealth of minute details and the stunning reciprocal reactivity that identifies this splendid record.

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