Jun 12 2014
Recommended: Aisha Duo – “Quiet Songs”
It was the rendition of Oregon’s “Beneath an Evening Sky” that caught my attention. It’s one of my favorite songs from one of my favorite Oregon recordings… the 1988 release 45th Parallel. That album is associated with some of my most sublime and bittersweet memories of living in Denver. And it’s difficult not to be transported back to those times when I hear that song… this is an element of music that I treasure about as highly as any, the way in which music is able to assimilate itself into the fabric of memory, and thus, of time.
So, when I came across a rendition of it on Quiet Songs, the 2005 release by Aisha Duo, I had to write something up. Recorded in a 17th-century Italian church, the album is presented in two parts. The first half features the duo of vibraphonist Andrea Dulbecco and Luca Gusella on marimba, and includes the opener “Beneath an Evening Sky,” followed by interpretations of eight pieces from Chick Corea’s 20-part “Children’s Song.” Their rendition certainly abides by Corea’s goal of expressing the beauty found in simplicity.
The album’s second half brings in cellist Marco Decimo and Glen Velez on frame drums. The cello’s inclusion on tracks like “Despertar” and “Sea, Subsurface” provide some welcome fullness to the melodic intentions. “Wind” is a rare up-tempo piece, with Velez taking the wheel on frame drums and hitting the gas pedal. A few tracks, like “Bianca” and “Amanda,” have a stronger folk music presence than others, but the personality traits expressed by these songs are relatively muted, and fit right in with the established serenity that binds this recording together.
There’s nothing deceptive about the title… this is quiet music made for the waning moments of twilight or, as it was for me with Oregon’s 45th Parallel, the perfect accompaniment to the darkness before dawn, in anticipation of the sun rising over the Rocky Mountains and the sky lighting up in a blaze of yellows and oranges and pinks and blues.
Your album personnel: Andrea Dulbecco (vibes), Luca Gusella (marimba), Marco Decimo (cello), and Glen Velez (frame drums).
Released in 2005 on ObliqSound.
Jazz from Italy.
Available at: Bandcamp | eMusic | Amazon CD | Amazon MP3
June 14, 2014 @ 8:55 am
Nice review, but one correction: while “Beneath an Wvwning Sky” did, indeed, appear on Oregon’s 45th Parallel, it first appeared on Towner’s 1979 ECM album, Old Friends, New Friends – a terrific album, if you’ve not heard it.
But either way, as you said it’s a terrific composition, and certainly reason enough for me to take your recommendation on this album, which slipped under my radar. Thanks!
June 14, 2014 @ 12:03 pm
Thanks for stopping by the site.
There’s really no correction to make, however. As far as my memories go and their association with that song, the only version that exists is the “45th Parallel” version, y’know? It’s the first rendition of the song I ever heard, and neither the Towner Old Friends, New Friends nor the Oregon Live in Moscow versions really trigger the kind of nostalgia that the 45th Parallel version does.
There’s a bunch of Aisha Duo tracks uploaded to Youtube by the label, ObliqSound. Check them out before buying anything. I wasn’t particularly overwhelmed by “Quiet Songs.” I mean, I do enjoy the album, but my writing about it was more based on how the one song took me back to other times.
And for anyone else reading these comments, I totally second John’s recommendation of Ralph Towner’s “Old Friends, New Friends.” It’s in my early-morning-music playlist, and the presence of Kenny Wheeler, Eddie Gomez, Mike di Pasqua and cellist Dave Darling provide the perfect mix of not-yet-awake serenity and the-coffee-is-starting-to-hit-me liveliness. The song “Yesterday and Long Ago” is probably my favorite track on the album.
I pretty much auto-purchase any ECM album that has Dave Darling contributing his cello to the efforts. His work with Ketil Bjornstad is lovely. Those were some of the first albums I scooped up when I first began transitioning from last-century ECM to new-century.