Jane Ira Bloom – Wild Lines: Improvising Emily Dickinson (Audiophile Edition)
Exclusively in Stereo & Multichannel DSD & DXD at NativeDSD!
The Grammy-winning team of saxophonist Jane Ira Bloom & audio engineer Jim Anderson brings Wild Lines: Improvising Emily Dickinson to Stereo and Multichannel DSD and DXD. This new audiophile edition showcases Bloom’s jazz quartet’s interpretation of Dickinson’s poetry and includes an additional version for Jazz quartet and spoken word featuring readings by popular stage & film actor Deborah Rush.
Bloom performs with her acclaimed quartet in dialogue with poetry in her first foray into music and text in high-resolution audio. Her sound is like no other on the Soprano Saxophone and she lets it fly with long-time bandmates Dawn Clement (piano), Mark Helias (bass) & Bobby Previte (drums).
Adding the Emily Dickinson narrative to the ensemble is acclaimed actor Deborah Rush. Bloom composed Wild Lines when she was awarded a CMA/Doris Duke New Jazz Works commission. Bloom was inspired to musically reimagine Dickinson when she learned that the poet was a pianist and improviser herself, reconfirming what she’d always felt in the jazz-like quality of Dickinson’s phrasing.
“I didn’t always understand her, but I always felt Emily’s use of words mirrored the way a jazz musician uses notes.” Wild Lines’ premiere at the poet’s home in Amherst, MA was followed by performances at the Kennedy Center and the NYPL for the Performing Arts. The ensemble then headed into Avatar Studios to record in surround-sound with renowned audio engineer Jim Anderson. The audio production team of Jim Anderson & Ulrike Schwarz mixed the surround sound project at Skywalker Studios and then tapped legendary mastering engineer Bob Ludwig of Gateway Mastering to put on the finishing touches.
The album features fourteen Bloom originals inspired by fragments of Dickinson poetry and prose mined from both her collected works and envelope poems “The Gorgeous Nothings.” The album closes with a solo rendition of an American classic, Rodgers & Hart’s” It’s Easy to Remember.” This time the 21st-century soprano saxophonist reimagines the poetry of 19th-century visionary Emily Dickinson in a high-resolution audio setting with the Anderson Audio team of Ulrike Schwarz and Jim Anderson.
Wild Lines/Improvising Emily Dickinson Audiophile Edition is a sound you’ve never heard before and illuminates why jazz critic Brian Priestly called Jane Ira Bloom “the poet of the soprano saxophone.”
Read a story about listening to surround sound written by Jane Ira Bloom in our Blog.
Jane Ira Bloom – Soprano Saxophone
Deborah Rush – Vocals
Dawn Clement – Piano
Mark Helias – Bass
Bobby Previte – Drums
Total time: 01:56:20
|5.1 Surround Engineers||
Jim Anderson and Ulrike Schwarz
Horus, Merging Technologies
Chamber Music America’s 2015 New Jazz Works Program funded through the generosity of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation
Bob Ludwig (DXD), Tom Caulfield (DSD)
Gateway Mastering in Portland, Maine and NativeDSD Mastering Lab in Marshfield, MA
Brauner, Neumann, B&K, Sanken, Sennheiser
|Mixing Studio (Stereo)||
Avatar Studios, New York City
|Mixing Studio (Surround)||
Mixed at Skywalker Sound, a Lucasfilm, Ltd. company, Marin County, CA
|Original Recording Format|
Jane Ira Bloom and Jim Anderson
Jim Anderson, Nate Odden (Assistant Engineer)
Avatar Studios, Studio B, New York City
Pyramix, Merging Technologies
|Recording Type & Bit Rate||
|Release Date||August 21, 2020|
Wild Lines is another of Bloom’s concept albums, this one commenting musically on the writings of poet Emily Dickinson. The project was a commission from Chamber Music America, although Bloom had already written three of the pieces and recorded versions of them on an earlier album before receiving the commission. Wild Lines is unusual for offering two works for each title, one occurring on either of the two discs.
Following hard on the heels of last year’s superb Early Americans, soprano saxophonist, Jane Ira Bloom does it again with another fresh and compelling album (and this time a double to boot!), taking as her source of inspiration the work of one of America’s most idiosyncratic and reclusive poets, Emily Dickinson (1830 – 1886) she captures the spirit and musicality of Dickinson’s unconventional writings. So unconventional that much of Dickinson’s early published works were heavily edited to conform with accepted poetic rues of the time. It was not until nearly seventy years after her death that a complete, and mostly unaltered, collection of her poetry became available for the first time when scholar Thomas H. Johnson published The Poems of Emily Dickinson in 1955.
And it is from these completed and unabridged works that one assumes that Bloom works her magic with her own unique and unconventional sense of rhyme and song in a set that follows on from the Early Americans album in terms of content and style, and yet also continuing with her forward motion and development as an artist. So much is learned and developed from the aforementioned album that Jane reworks no less than five compositions from Americans to weave into the fabric of the two sets that make up Wild Lines, and each are heard on both sets that make this double album. This duplication, however, is cleverly used to introduce new voicings and a new voice, giving each reading a life of its own.
Adding pianist Dawn Clement to the core trio of Bloom, Helias and Previte was a smart move, and no little credit to Clement that she not only finds a place in the music but positively enhances the group sound, with the chordal instrument not hampering the flow of the saxophone lines or the established rapport between bass and drums. Another good decision was made in making this a double album comprising of one set of music, and a second with an almost identical running order that includes the poetry of Emily Dickinson read by Deborah Rush.
The quartet work through the music as one, each musician establishing their own role in the music, and whilst there are solos by all, it is the collective identity of the four musicians that make this such a memorable set. All the compositions are cleverly worked to encompass interesting thematic material, swing, and a relaxed intensity that brings out the singing quality in the soprano that is uplifting and by turns sympathetically mournful as was much of the poet’s hermetic existence.
The second of the sets with Rush’s readings disturb the flow of the music in a manner that stops one in one’s tracks and stop to listen intently to the words of Dickinson, and after the words come the music that is evocative of the lonely and singular life that the poet confined herself to. A perfect example of this is ‘Mind Gray River’ with Dickinson’s words intoned by Rush and the baleful tone of the soprano over the bass and piano motif.
Once again, Bloom has triumphed in producing fresh and original music that reflects both the literary and musical tradition of her native land. What next from Jane Ira Bloom is as always subject to speculation and anticipation in equal measures.
To follow up last year’s Early Americans, a vertiginously irresistible trio album cooked up with bassist Mark Helias and drummer Bobby Previte, soprano saxophonist Jane Ira Bloom took inspiration from the work of American poet Emily Dickinson to mount a double album containing 14 originals and a single jazz standard.
The conception envisioned for this body of work, suggestively entitled Wild Lines: Improvising Emily Dickinson, allowed Ms. Bloom to expand her trio into a pliable quartet with the addition of the much-appreciated pianist Dawn Clement, who had given her contribution in 2008 and 2010 to the albums Mental Weather and Wingwalker, respectively. Her crisp comping and energizing improvised lines fit like a glove in the ambitious vision of the bandleader, who reserved the first set for instrumentals and the second set for a dramatic combination of music and the poetry of Dickinson declaimed by actor Deborah Rush.
Many of these tunes can be found in Bloom’s previous albums and were naturally subjected to a different treatment here. Among them, the highlights are the Steve Lacy-esque “Cornets of Paradise”, which primarily acts in an avant-garde setting before shifting to an enthusiastic swing, falling into a vehement African pulse just to return to the theme with demonstrative contentment. “Big Bill” whose upbeat 4/4 groove and catchy melody are quite contagious. “Singing the Triangle” whose question marks in the head’s melody often work as a point of reference in the collective’s explorations. “Dangerous Times”, which feels like an Indian rhapsody maintained by rubber-coated drum chops prepared with percussive mallets.
Among the previously unrecorded compositions, “Emily & Her Atoms” is particularly lyric in its classical enunciations. “Alone & In A Circumstance” strives with spot-on disruptions and Previte’s noticeable mallet work. “One Note From One Bird” denotes an attractive charm that derives from the clear terminology employed in the improvisations, the uninterrupted swinging pulse, and Helias’ bass roams avoiding the traditional walking way.
Immersed in Dickinson’s 19th-Century poetry and competently assisted by the gifted musicality of her bandmates, Jane Ira Bloom renders a contemporary jazz album that it’s poetry itself.
All About Jazz
Jane Ira Bloom, winner of the 65th Annual Downbeat Critics Poll Winners (2017) award in the soprano saxophone category, took as her inspiration for this recording, the writings of nineteenth century America poet Emily Dickinson. Such was her admiration for the poet that she composed the music for this double album as a lyrical paean, made possible by a commission from Chamber Music America’s 2015 New Jazz Works Program, funded through the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.
Some of Dickinson’s words, notably from a posthumously published collection The Gorgeous Nothings and Emily Dickinson and The Art Of Belief, are spoken by actor Deborah Rush on the second set. The track titles mirror each other on both sets, but in an alternative order. On “A Star Not Far Enough” Rush recites in full the five stanzas comprising Dickinson’s poem “A Murmur In The Trees—To Note.” Just as effective is “Singing The Triangle” opening with the lines “The Visit To The Circus,” but the music that follows is spectacular, Bloom’s soprano both soaring and yet powerful.
“Mind Gray River” is underpinned by Mark Helias’ languid double-stopped pizzicato bass line and Bobby Previte‘s frenetic drumming. They introduce and pulsatingly sustain “Cornets of Paradise.” The memorably hypnotic “Hymn: You Wish You Had Eyes In Your Pages” is just as remarkable.
Whilst sharing identical titles and roughly the same structures, the tracks on each set are subtly different. However, the captivating performances on both the instrumental recording and its spoken counterpart are equally enthralling. Check out the insistent modal groove of “Big Bill.” The sole outlier, not composed by Bloom, is “It’s Easy To Remember” by Rodgers and Hart with Bloom’s limpid unaccompanied rendition.
The title of the album emanates from Dickinson’s short poem “Wild Nights, Wild Nights!” Curiously, she never had a commercially printed volume of poetry published in her lifetime despite her prolific writing, but this excellent and original album goes someway to restoring and revitalizing the memory of one of America’s finest poets, realized by one of America’s finest soprano saxophonists.
The idea of a modern jazz quartet taking its inspiration from the poetry of Emily Dickinson is ingenious but not obvious. By the standards of her poet-contemporaries she was deliberately unmusical–staccato, dissonant, and ironical–features more readily associated with modernistic poetry or even bebop. To these features, we might add a hidden strength and a playful contrariness. Taken together, we have a banner for a band that plays serious original music without undue concern for categories or genre expectations. So, what can we expect from a double album dedicated to the Concord Solitary?
On the purely instrumental versions, several of Emily’s poetic virtues hover over the quartet as general instructions. Clarity first. Nothing is half-finished or incompletely articulated. The kind of expressive wailing which is the regrettable legacy of Coltrane’s later soprano playing is not to be found here. Not that there isn’t emotion in Bloom’s tone. In comparison to the other strictly soprano master Steve Lacy, who attained a uniquely neutral tone, she is capable of warmth and animation.
Secondly, attentiveness is evident everywhere. The quartet is always listening, alert to changes, nuances, and silences. A key figure here is the drummer, Bobby Previte. Famous for kicking up a righteous storm on so many of his own projects, he prefers to work the toms and shun the busy stick of the boppers. His playing is melodically compelling and perfectly in accord with the muscular undercurrent of bassist Mark Helias. Thirdly, one feels an almost transcendental calm over the whole session which fits the irenic nature of both Poet and Musician who have both found the center of their respective art forms.
This is a bold and rewarding project by a musician who is nudging her way into great-composer status during a long and fruitful career. I would guess that Jazz crowd will be puzzled by uses of the enigmatic verse, while the poet crowd will be charmed by the idea if not the readings. Fans of Mark Helias and Bobby Previte will readily appreciate that this is more evidence of their preeminence in the field of creative improvised music.
Jane Ira Bloom is an acknowledged Jazz Master on the Soprano Saxophone. She has built a following bridging modern and experimental jazz. In Wild Lines she has created a fresh and unpretentious exploration of the intersection of music and spoken text, taking inspiration from fragments of Emily Dickinson’s poetry. Bloom says, “I didn’t always understand her, but I always felt Emily’s use of words mirrored the way a jazz musician uses notes.”
Bloom soars in this music. Her music on this album is inventive, flowing, and constantly seeking new avenues for expression. In this, she is well supported by her partners, Dawn Clement on piano, Mark Helias on bass, Bobby Previte on drums, and the speaking voice of Deborah Rush.
In closing I will say that the sound quality on this album is superb — very clean and with excellent resolution and reproduction of the timbre of the instruments. Jim Anderson has done a masterful job capturing the instruments and voice with lifelike character and detail. It is one of those recordings where one can simply luxuriate in the sound all for the sake of the sonics. But here we get the triple luxury of compelling music, excellent performances and great sonics.
Jane Ira Bloom said, “When I heard the first playback in surround I said to Jim, ‘my God, this is like sonic heroin. I’ve never heard sound come back at me that comes this close to what it feels like to be inside the band. This is what it sounds like!’ This is what I got excited about!”
I love it! I think you may, too.
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