As we play out our lives in real time we trace the unfolding trajectory of the musical artists we gladly follow, so that each new album for example is not set in stone but plays upon the possibilities made available to the musical artist at any given point. In the case of bassist-bandleader Michael Bisio the new one is rather unexpected and in no way a kind of safe haven but rather a new set of risks entailed in a duet recording with guitarist-vocalist Timothy Hill. The album that has resulted just now is something so very good and not exactly predictable based on what has been going forth musically in the last decade nor so. Inside Voice / Outside Voice (Origin Records 82872) may seem the usual if we consider the Songbook Standards and the Jazz Classics it covers. But when you listen you know it is something new, something different.
As the title suggests, this music has growth born inside the musical beings of both artists and what is more the astral plane perhaps tracks us too on the outside of our typically bounded musical way born of popular avenues, all that retraced to show intrinsic and transcendant musical being, maybe? One thinks as one listens to other artists going through their special cycles like the Coltrane of ballads and the Johnny Hartman vocals that put that together even further on their dual album of those days, think also Ornette in Science Fiction mode and how the two take on "Law Years" from that period. and here we are born into another musical universe altogether yet not of course fully divorced from those golden moments of the past. And in it all is a deliciously warm lyrical side in the balladic vocal coupled with Bisio's remarkable extended techniques bass brilliance of "My One and Only Love."
Timothy Hill is a rare beast in that he sings well and unpretentiously, plays a smartly inventive acoustic guitar and so stands up winningly against Michael's extraordinary bass effusions that have all the sonic adventure of his "normal" out playing, that special originality and furthers along with Timothy in his vocal emanations that kind of internal song inside that comes out and makes very real the Inside Voice idea. Brilliant.
This album stands out even from a typical Bisio gem in various contexts, for it grabs a very testificatory revelling in tonal washes of unforgettable warmth and density. And the vocals, even those make sense perfectly as a new thing and not at all some commercial sell gimmick. I will not say there is something a little like Chet Baker in his vocal cups at his best, with a different attack however, yet in a kind of heart-on-sleeve without the sometimes inevitable gyrational urgency that a more extroverted run through would have produced. And then there are the harmonic and whistle-stopped vocals too that work very well as an outward bound in trajectory that goes wonderfully well with Michael's droning bow attacks.
And so all that works like a charm and gives us the backdrop for one of Michael's most completely original bass outings yet, perhaps I could say?
It all seems exactly right for a sunny spring morning such as the one outside my window as I type these lines. But it would hit home regardless of the season, so do not be sorry if you read this in December or such. Good any time.
This is outstandingly good music. Do not hesitate.