Bassist Michael Bisio and acoustic guitarist/vocalist Timothy Hill recently got together to make a delightful, instinctive record that neither could have made with anyone else.
Recorded as a single continuous take without any edits, Inside Voice / Outside Voice (Origin Records) is a communion between two seasoned souls who have each led long, varied musical careers marked by being open-minded and making no compromises. Otherwise, these aren't musicians who are cut from the same cloth, but that didn't prevent them from finding common ground and within that common ground they made uncommon music.
Michael Bisio has been in the space plenty of times, as the longtime bassist in the Matthew Shipp Trio and participating in fruitful collaborations with other stars of the New York City downtown scene.
On the other hand, Timothy Hill defies neat categorization to the point that he's created his own category. Proficient on both guitar and piano, Hill, was raised on rock 'n' roll but early on developed an interest in jazz, folk, raga and various forms of avant-garde music. Most distinctively, Hill developed an interest in various forms of vocal music, such as harmonic choirs, Tibetan monk chants and Hindustani classical vocal music.
Hill's unconventional way of singing is most apparent on familiar songs. For "My One and Only Love," he adapts his chanting style into an instrument for passion, amply matched by the superb Bisio asides that follow. The two tack on an improvised postscript "Transfigure," where the mood turns stormy, led by Bisio's bow in attack mode. Hill is heard applying his remarkable vocal approach effectively on other selections from the Great American Songbook, such as "I Fall In Love Too Easily" and "For All We Know."
For John Coltrane's gentle "Wise One," Bisio's soul-baring bass is the centerpiece of the performance, adorned by Hill's wordless counterpoint, rendering it as the reflective meditation that it was meant to be. "Law Years" by Ornette Coleman is noted for Charlie Haden's brawny bass work, but Bisio slows it down a bit to lyrical speed and offers a different, intriguing new perspective on the song, as does Hill's vocal harmonizing along to his guitar. "For Django," an elegiac number composed by the enigmatic bassist Henry Grimes, turns into a perfect platform for Hill to show off his acclaimed Tibetan chant technique.