Pianist/singer Dawn Clement adapts to any musical situation in which she finds herself. On her latest effort she carves out attentive improvisational spaces for a range of high-profile colleagues, content in leading and
following in equal measure across an eclectic terrain of 10 tunes. Clement's welcoming spirit is more alive than ever, as demonstrated by two dialogues with Julian Priester. "Blues for Wayne" (a Clement original) finds
its composer and the legendary trombonist engaged in serious play. Clement swings with a willingness to go wherever the journey may lead, her fingers always two steps ahead. "Improvisation #3", by contrast, comes
across mournfully and makes artful use of silence.
Vocalist Johnaye Kendrick joins on "I Think of You" and Clement's own "Memory". The latter's pathos leads into some meaty improvisation while the former spins the album's warmest harmonies. In both, Clement's left and right hands move like tectonic plates of emotion beneath the words, their interpretive tremors rippling throughout. Such relationships deepen in her collaborations with saxophonist Mark Taylor, whose alto graces "Ablution" (Lennie Tristano) and "Sugar Cliff" (Brad Shepik). In both, all that is sought is found. Whether gilding the edges of a theme or adlibbing new directions, Taylor navigates every wave by keeping the North Star of Clement's
accompaniment in sight at all times. The leader's deepest dives, however, are with drummer Matt Wilson. In both Thelonious Monk's "Bemsha Swing" and the concluding "Stay Awake", Wilson's cymbals shine like sunset, thus emphasizing darker shades within.
Two stand-alones round out the set. "My Ideal" is a heartfelt duet with bassist Michael Glynn while "In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning" finds Clement alone. Her voice resonates poignantly, a beacon for listeners at a time when such equalities of exchange and waste-not-want-not philosophy are all too rare.