Allison Miller & Jane Ira Bloom Tues Days (Outline Records)

On paper, most improvised duets should have a natural sparseness – the fewer the instruments, the more gaunt the music. But from Haden/Jones to Blackwell/Cherry to Halvorson/Frisell, that “on paper” stuff often turns to hooey. The wisest improvisers know how to sculpt their presentations to conjure the impact of a full ensemble. This new duo exchange between soprano saxophonist Jane Ira Bloom and drummer Allison Miller pulls off such a trick. Agile, yes. But in an uncanny way, flush with gambits that bend sound towards elaboration. The 11 fully improvised performances, cut remotely in Brooklyn last spring during Covid down-time with no initial intention of being shared with an audience, glow with a unusual heft. A lot of this victory has to do with the breadth of sound that Miller’s percussion is capable of. On “Technicolor” that means a parade of kinetics. Morse code on the toms, clanging cymbals, circus press rolls, and metallic chatter – with her mate’s nimble horn lines brocading the action, the drummer turns the piece into a poetic flourish. Other tracks follow suit. The flutters that Bloom delivers in “Crayola” accumulate nicely, their feathery swoops becoming part of a rich foreground. “Upon Seeing JP” simmers and simmers, intermittently threatening to boil over. And if you do wind up yearning for a hushed passage that still has plenty of cool particulars, “Light Years Away” is right there waiting for you.

Jane Ira Bloom

Allison Miller

TONE Audio

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