Amulet is a new One Microphone Recording by Michael Moore on Clarinet and Internationally recognized American bassist Paul Berner on Double Bass. It is their second album at Native DSD Music, following their earlier release This Bird Has Flown – The Music of Lennon and McCartney with Ed Verhoeff and Peter Tiehuis.
On Amulet, Berner and Moore selected a number of their favorite songs plus a few original compositions. They brought them to the studio where they were recorded in Stereo DXD with just One Microphone – a Josephson Engineering C700S using the Horus Analog to Digital Converter from Merging Technologies.
Chemistry between musicians is a magical thing. Michael Moore and Paul Berner have that kind of magic. When they play, the music seems to flow in a natural unhindered stream, each note being an obvious continuation of what was played before. It was a thrill to be in the producer’s seat at this session, witnessing these two masters going about their craft. How they would feed each other and pass the ball at just the right moment. Observing how they would shape a song into a whole by polishing, simplifying, or embellishing where needed, yet all the time being aware of the freshness and immediacy of creating in the moment.
The album starts out with I Never Knew, written by Gus Kahn and Ted FioRito in 1925, ends with You’ll Never Walk Alone from 1945 and along the way includes Night Ride Home, a late 1980’s Joni Mitchell song, as well as Emptier and Amulet, two recently composed Michael Moore originals. That’s almost 100 years of song writing right there, yet it all sounds as if each song was composed especially for the Amulet album.
Frans explains how the Josephson C700S works to Michael and Paul
“Since Bach’s time it has been clear that two voices are all you need for functional harmony to be heard. This recording is a dialogue between Paul and myself – we collected a number of our favorite songs and a few originals with the only concept being we wanted to play them simply. Actually I have been wanting to do something like this since I heard the great New Orleans clarinetist Louis Cottrell’s Riverside recording ‘Bourbon Street’. That recording is pure joy! There’s several recordings of saxophone/bass duets and trios with drums, such as Sonny Rollins at the Village Vanguard, but clarinet/bass duos in jazz seem to be very rare. I’d especially like to thank Frans de Rond and Peter Bjørnild – they were a joy to work with. The simplicity of just one microphone in front of us and the relaxed atmosphere in the studio, helped create this very close intimate recording, so perfect for this music.”
“I’ve loved Micheal’s unique voice, especially on clarinet, since I first heard him. Happily and quietly, he and I have been working together for years, collaborating on projects of his and mine. This is our magical Corona-era AMULET: our good luck charm to keep us artistically safe and thriving through this difficult period. Heartfelt melodies played simply and honestly.”
Michael: Your blurb is much more loving, of course, but ya gotta spell my name right, okay?
Paul: Oops, sorry about that! Mine is simply a PR blurb. Yours is more informative but less gushy…
M: Yours is a love letter, mine is pretentious.
P: Yours is descriptive, aimed at the jazz listener. Mine is emotive, aimed at the general audience.
M: Perhaps we should include this conversation as well!
P: Like you were reading my mind.
Michael Moore – Clarinet
Paul Berner – Double Bass
Total time: 00:42:27
|Analog to DIgital Converter||
Horus, Merging Technologies
Frans de Rond
Hifiman HE1000se and Sennheiser HD800S
|Original Recording Format|
Peter Bjørnild, Michael Moore and Paul Berner
Frans de Rond
TAD Compact Evolution One
|Release Date||April 16, 2021|
Michael Moore is one of the leading musicians of the international improvisation scene. Double bassist Paul Berner is a master of subtlety and a true country specialist. Both musicians do not deny their American musical roots.
They regularly played together in various configurations, but they have never made a real duo recording. That has changed with the appropriate title ‘Amulet’, a memento of this Corona virus period. It is a Stereo DXD recording, provided by the famous Frans de Rond.
Never has Moore’s clarinet sounded so caressing and refined. Berner’s double bass also seems to breathe more than ever. Melodic and lilting pieces have been chosen. Repertoire in which you – so to speak – start whistling along.
The album starts with the well-known ‘I Never Knew‘, introduced by the pulsating double bass. A track that seamlessly transitions into the melancholy ‘Answer Me, My Love’. The interplay in ‘But Not For Me‘ and ‘This Nearly Was Mine‘ is beneficial. The softly plucked double bass merges imperceptibly with the tone of the clarinet, Music that enters like a pleasant spring breeze.
We find that authentic country feeling in ‘Night Ride Home‘ and ‘Crazy He Calls Me‘. Strong songs that are intensely brought to the fore. Berner hums softly along with his double bass. Full of nostalgia is ‘Home‘ and the intense emptiness of the prairie is palpable in ‘Emptier‘, with the musicians intensely connected in a search for even more depth in their playing. Lighter in key is the title track ‘Amulet‘, where the clarinet seems to smile at you kindly.
In the classic ‘I’ll Fly Away‘ the spirit of the great Jim Reeves seems to revive for a moment and with their performance of ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone‘ the duo manages to give shine again to a song that has been too often mistreated. is by artists of a lesser caliber.
‘Amulet‘, in its modest duo format, has become a great production. A tribute to the power of the American song tradition.
Lament For A Straight Line
In the early ‘70s, Chick Corea and Gary Burton made a duet record entitled Crystal Silence. With just piano and vibraphone, they bet the farm on intimacy and designed a template for contemplative jazz duos.
Bassist Paul Berner and clarinetist Michael Moore accomplish something similar with Amulet. These duets are the epitome of refinement, barring all things extraneous. They leave room only for melody, an aside or two, and the chance to absorb the natural beauty of their instruments.
Expat Moore, a boomer who has lived in Amsterdam long enough to be considered a veteran of the city’s creative improvising cohort, is a key member of the esteemed ICP Orchestra. His clarinet work can be as elaborate as it is inviting, but here he plays to one of his strengths: simplicity. Through a curt series of songs, one of our most engaging clarinetists invests in consonance and nods to pith.
Bassist Berner, another Netherlands transplant of a certain age, is known for his agility and poise. His rapport with Moore is obvious. Through Louis Armstrong’s “Home,” Nat Cole’s “Answer Me, My Love” and Joni Mitchell’s “Night Ride Home,” a genteel spirit dominates as the exchanges play out. To steal descriptors from each of the participant’s individual liner notes, you can call this one a “heartfelt dialogue.”
This is about as simple a recording as you’re ever going to hear. Two musicians, one microphone and each track performed live, straight to DXD recording – and it’s enchanting. Covering a range of well-known tunes, and some compositions of their own, clarinetist Moore and bassist Berner were recorded at Hilversum by Frans de Rond using a single Josephson C7005 stereo microphone.
So, the ambience and sound staging you here were a matter of configuring the studio and the position of the performers to create the desired sound. Then the two were invited to the control room to hear the sound, and “This is us; this is how we sound, this is so real” was Michael’s reaction upon listening. Paul just smiled at Frans and said: “Let’s play!”’
All that spontaneity comes over in spades in this set, which has the usual Sound Liaison recording quality, plus that unmistakable sense of two musicians just bouncing off each other, improvising and making the shape of the songs up as they went along. This is as live as it gets, with a real ‘in the room with the musicians’ impression.
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