What a marvellous recital this is by Andrea Brachfeld & Insight. It features swinging, rollicking and often profound repertoire played with precision, sensitivity and a touch of aplomb by Miss Brachfeld, showing off her delightful range of flutes – and a kalimba – also showcasing superior craftsmanship by pianist Bill O’Connell, bassist Harvie S and drummer and percussionist Jason Tiemann. The title of the album – Evolution – is meant to convey how much has changed after the world endures months of a savage pandemic. [Perhaps regressed may be a better word than evolution, considering how much more divisive human populations – especially in the USA and Canada – have become].
In actual fact, Miss Brachfeld deals with this in an almost seven minute missive entitled Decimation of Transformation. The sound of her fiery harmonic variations – arrested and then punctuated by an equally combustible performance by drummer Mr Tiemann and the rest of the crew – seem to convey – with heavy handed emphasis on the down-beat of fermata or phrase-ending declaims all that the composition means to suggest about societal regression post-pandemic. At this point we feel as if a climactic musical event is to follow and follow it does in the next part of the album – the next two or three songs propel us into an altogether different space.
The first of these is Miss Brachfeld’s spoken word song Qingauiit [by Jon Wheeler and Randall Prescott] playing alto flute after the recitative. The “child of the earth”, referenced numerous times in that recitative, is the [child of the] Inuit people. The flutist gives wing to the “freedom” which she wishes upon the subject of the sing, which ends in a low register of the alto flute – seemingly a doffing of the proverbial hat to the Inuit practice of throat singing – or katajjaq. This is followed by Miss Brachfeld’s deeply meditative and florid interpretation of The Hut Song – mystic music composed Hazrat Bedam Shah Warsi [1876 – 1936] the North Indian born Sufi poet famous for his devotional poetry.
We are in the thrall of music that is drenched not only in the flutist’s emotion, but also profoundly infused with her penchant for spirituality – the particular kind of which is practiced by cultures where a nearness to nature superseded the materialistic attractions that have become the norm of an otherwise capitalist world. On that music – as well as on The Unraveling of it All and Ko Ribon by the singing, Hasidic Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, Miss Brachfeld gives us pause to think about this and many other more meditative and caring aspects of life that the long pandemic seems not to have taught us to align ourselves to.
The pianist Bill O’Connell, a long-time collaborator of the flutist plays an important role in this music seemingly fully attuned to the flutist’s artist vision. He contributes to the compositions and plays with uncommon sensitivity throughout. Bassist Harvie S is a master of colour and erudite intonation and brings superb gravitas to this music. And Mr Tiemann not only times his drumming to perfection but he also adds translucent, shimmering and dancing percussion-playing to the soaring finale of this gorgeous recording.
Tracks – 1: What’s Up; 2: Decimation of Transformation; 3: Qingauiit; 4: The Hut Song; 5: Child of the Earth; 6: The Unraveling of it All; 7: Ko Ribon; 8: Being with What Is
Musicians – Andrea Brachfeld: C flute, alto flute, spoken word, Colombian clay flute, African bamboo flute and kalimba; Bill O’ Connell: piano; Harvie S: bass; Jason Tiemann: drums and percussion
Released – 2022
Label – Origin Records [Origin 82847]
Runtime – 49:50
YouTube Video – Andrea Brachfeld & Insight: Evolution EPK
YouTube Audio – What’s Up – Andrea Brachfeld & Insight: Evolution
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