Martin Archer/Charlotte Keefe/Martin Pyne

Hi Res Heart
Discus Music 108 CD

Overcoming pandemic lockdown restrictions with electronics and multi-instrumental acumen, three British improvisers create trio music that’s more than the sum of its parts. Each player recorded his or her part separately and these textures were then melded with the recorded responses of the others. Considering Charlotte Keeffe plays trumpet and flugelhorn; Martin Pyne vibraphone, drums, percussion and toy piano; and Martin Archer sopranino, soprano, alto, tenor and, baritone saxophones, Bb and bass clarinets, bass harmonica, flute and electronics the resulting textures are layered in a variety of paradigms. It’s a tribute to the three, who are involved with multiple UK bands, that they make the idiosyncratic program sound as natural as any conventional trio set – or perhaps a 16-piece band jam session.

Although each player provides the initial concept on four tracks apiece, he or she doesn’t dominate them. Paramountly group music, the results depend on cooperation and careful listening. The stretched dialogue from Keeffe’s capillary bites and dribbles with Archer’s sour-tone saxophone sways on “G.E.M” for instance are given narrative shape by vibraphone pings. Meanwhile Pyne’s use of drum patterning, guiro-like scratches and pseudo maracas shakes help move “Dolly Grip” from its trumpet fanfare and reed growling introduction to a finale of stacked brass bugling, baritone sax snarls and regularized drum pummels.

Comparable multi-tasking takes place elsewhere by Archer. Chalumeau clarinet echoes project solemnity as do his basso flute tones, while his saxophone split tones reference Free Jazz extensions. Instructively on “Song for Bobby Naughton” his horizontal clarinet sighs not only intersect with Keefe’s bluesy licks, but later turn orotund to temper Pyne’s strident vibe whaps.

Still the trio’s ability to extend classic AACM/BAG concepts is most obvious on “Seduction Dance” and “Jean". The latter dissolves into snarls and peeps from both horns after beginning with march-like drumming then revealing a sequence of emotional Blues playing from Keefe, underlined by subtle electronics. Following introductory press rolls “Seduction Dance” emphasizes harmony and rhythm as clarion clarinet and brass yelps snake to the conclusion along with glockenspiel-like drum patterning. Hi Res Heart shows that limitations imposed by a global pandemic can be amended by sophisticated improvisers.

—Ken Waxman

Track Listing: 1. Silena's Fire 2. G.E.M 3. Looking for Gene 4. Song for Bobby Naughton 5. Seduction Dance 6. June 7. Jean 8. Earth Memory 9. Sleep Uneasy 10. The Story in the Mirror 11. Tommy 12. Dolly Grip

Personnel: Charlotte Keeffe (trumpet, flugelhorn); Martin Archer (sopranino, soprano, alto, tenor, baritone saxophones, Bb, bass clarinets, bass harmonica, flute, electronics) and Martin Pyne (vibraphone, drums, percussion, toy piano)