Sound Clouds

Prise the disc out of the luxuriantly thick card CD sleeve to begin something of an intimate highly abstract journey transported by the lamenting Lee Konitz-like wail of Martin Speake, and the jagged lightly manicured modern pianism of classical player Douglas Finch.

Speake, last heard from on the trio album Always a First Time, recorded this latest album in July last year at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance in London where both musicians teach, the project emerging from an initial workshop that led to a studio session. Tense and absorbing as the music turns out Speake found it stimulating (maybe not for those reasons!) working with Finch who isn’t versed in an improvising discipline. But it’s not surprising that there are classical references on the album given Finch’s background even though the music has been mostly improvised and composed “in the moment” by both players. These classical references include a theme from a Shostakovich fugue and a homage to Xenakis in the dizzying title track, ‘Sound Clouds.’

Speake is a real thinker of a player and there is usually a boffin-like dimension to his style of improvising. He’s very much in the cockpit piloting the album although Finch finds interesting spaces to draw Speake out, approaching something like Matthew Shipp’s method in his more denser duos with Evan Parker. The final bittersweet ‘Waltz’ is a gem of improvisational lucidity and nostalgia.
Released on Monday 1 September