LEFT HAND PATH
When the clarinet faded from favour as a front-line jazz instrument (in favour of the saxophone and or sometimes the bass clarinet) the music lost a singularly expressive array of colours. These colours and effects did not need to be restricted to the leaping, pert or swooning sounds of early jazz. As Jon Hunt shows here that the clarinet is capable of mimicking the human voice just as well as a saxophone, but often in a more disquieting way. If you want to emphasise eerie, ghostly qualities it is perfect.
Although Mark Shepard (double bass) and Ronny Ferella (drums) are equal voices in these six unedited improvisations they tend to concentrate on creating dark and even sinister contexts in which the clarinet can sudden flare like an open-flame torch, or in which its eeriness is compounded. Collectively shunning the constraints of idiom, including the clichés of free improvisation, the trio alternates between sparseness and intricacy, and between abstraction and a profound humanism. The album is superbly recorded, and apparently when these Melburnians perform live they do it entirely acoustically. I’d like to hear that.