After decades of recording in small ensemble formats, bassist David Friesen offered up Testimony
(Origin Records) in 2020, an outing which found him backed by his quartet and the National Academic Symphonic Band of Ukraine on his best and most ambitious recording. He followed that up in 2021 by going back to the—for him— familiar territory of the art of the duo, enlisting pianist Bob Ravenscroft in the creation of Passages.
The duo presents twenty-five musical vignettes, brief slices of beautiful ambience with running times rolling from just under a minute to near-five minutes. These are succinct statements, a letting go to allow the improvisational moment to take the music where it will. There is the floating introspection of "In The Place Of Calling," the delicate beauty of "Obedience," the sharp clarity of focus on "Awareness," the restless momentum of "Forward."
Friesen and Ravenscroft have played music together for more than thirty years. Their in-the-moment attunement to each other is obvious, and seems effortless and natural. On "Journey," Friesen slips into a percussive mode on his Hemage bass—an instrument with a distinctive sound, crisper than an acoustic instrument, warmer and more organic than the standard electric bass guitar—while Ravenscroft, playing his namesake piano of his own design, displays a clarity of tone and cleanness of articulation to go along with the richness of the lower-end sound.
The presentation of twenty-five individual pieces makes for a cornucopia of musical ideas from the minds of two seasoned and dedicated artists as they lay out their spontaneous sonic path.