Ashley Paul here with her new cassette Another Sand (WAGTAIL RECORDINGS 008), this one credited to a new trio of players called Ray. In some ways this continues and builds on the set-up that was explored on Knots, Movement (from 2020) where Ashley Paul played saxophone and adds vocals alongside the minimal bass plucks of Otto Willberg. Willberg is here on Another Sand, and the trio is completed by a second woodwind player, Yoni Silver, who contributes bass clarinet and alto saxophone.
On these June 2021 live recordings from Cafe Oto, the trio successfully walk a tightrope between song-form and free improvisation, the skeletal compositions allowing poetry recits and breathless singing from Ashley and also fluid improvised passages from Yoni. It’s particularly nice when both saxophones weave together, finding space for inventions while still managing to carry the melody of the piece; this works especially well on the long piece ‘Cross the Ocean + Star Over Sand’ (which probably combines two songs into one, now I think of it). The music may appear frail and washed-out at first listen, but this conceals a core of sinewy strength, and there is much genuine emotional content which the trio carry with admirable poise and restraint. A very successful trio set-up where every single instrument is needed and there’s not a wasted note in sight; Willberg’s bass in particular is crucial to pinning down the structure.
Available as a limited edition cassette with hand-printed and embossed artworks. (22/10/2021)