[…] Gina Schwarz & Multiphonics 8: Way to Blue:  In keeping with the proverbial “dark” tone of voice that Gina Schwarz imparts to her instrument – and to her music – this recording also begins with rippling bass and drum groove experienced as a reflection of [this] darkness in shattered mirror. “Lost Time”, that propulsive opening to the recording immediately takes us into another world – a world that echoes with hopes and despair, joy and sorrows that are cast into a kind of Mendelssohnian scherzo that Miss Schwarz is ever so adept at creating. However, despite the pre-eminent presence of the contrabass and what certainly sounds like symphonic percussion colouring by the drummer – this time in the person of Dirk-Peter Kölsch.

This recording is, however, vastly different in its soundworld, its narratives, thematic and gestural approach. The predominance of bottom-heavy tonal registers of the woodwinds and the singular absence of brass – which would almost certainly added to the brightness of the tone-textures – enables Miss Schwarz to create a completely different soundscape. The poignant music which is born of the composer’s own nostalgia, which criss-crosses – and often runs parallel to one which the eminent British composer and singer inhabited in his relatively short life. Like Mr Drake’s world, one seems to be beckoned into a world that Miss Schwarz inhabits not dissimilar to this recording’s Muse.

The songs themselves are interspersed in a series of “inner conversations”. Each is a [numbered] “Chat” that Miss Schwarz seems to has, often on two levels – one, which is with her ensemble and the other with the ghosts from her own past and the other, which is with Mr Drake. Each of these conversations or “Chats” – is as often a lonely monologue, or may often involve multiple voices set in a contrapuntal conversation. Each also acts as a prelude to the forthcoming song performed in the shadow of theatrical and dark-sounding sound palette.

Miss Schwarz’s playing gives shadowy textures and bold, invigorating impetus to the melodies and harmonies played by the woodwinds and the piano. She always thinks big, phrasing in long surging spans of sculpted bass line melodies, imbuing her passagework with a powerful sense of direction. The piano, bass and drums drive the woodwinds [musicians listed below] passionately, even impetuously, forward, with minimal affectionate or elegiac lingering in each song’s lyrical theme. Soli are refreshingly brief and ungimmicky. Miss Schwarz’s gift for “big” thinking plays out beautifully- always at a brisk, no-nonsense tempo. All of this pays dividends in the majestic form of “Choral”, “Blue Sunbeam” and in the grand finale, “Looking for John”.

In many ways these arrangements recall the monumental ones that Eric Dolphy created when he worked with John Coltrane on the legendary Africa Brass sessions. However, there is no gratuitous idolatry here; just inspired compositions and arrangements on the part of the prodigiously gifted Miss Schwarz.

Raul da Gama – 24.09.2022