Saxophonist Paul Dunmall’s association with the improvising piano trio Bourne/Davis/Kane goes back to the early days of the long-running trio.

Moment to Moment, an album recorded in June 2008 dominated by three long improvisations, was released by the Slam label. This new recording, however, is more recent recorded five years on at the Birmingham Conservatoire in October 2013.

Simply presented with a striking photograph of distant blue mountains while closer to the camera a simple one-track rail disappears around a bend in front of our eyes, Mandalas in the Sky consists of six improvisations and begins with ‘Finding It.’

Overwhelmingly challenging but rewarding music each piece has a certain serenity to it embedded deep within the quartet’s opaque explorations. Different points of departure throw up new insights into the quartet’s method and for instance the more fractured rickety textures of strings and eventually saxophone on ‘Butterfly Song’ are more exposed and raw, the improvisation suddenly shrinking in scale.

Matthew Bourne finds additional strength on the powerful ‘Me We’ establishing an elastic dialogue with bassist Dave Kane easing in Dunmall at his most Coltranian. However, the most significant and successful piece is ‘Strange Time’ and not just because it is the longest, at just under 20 minutes, when Dunmall switches majestically to flute conjuring an entirely new mood spurred on by the engaged rhythmic accompaniment of Davis as the improvisation cascades into an ever more engrossing space. SG