Berardi/Foran/ Karlen




They found the ideal title in Haven. The opening lament, No Shepherds Live Here, has, like most of the pieces, such a profound stillness at its centre that it’s as if, just by pressing play, you step out of the world for its duration and into a place of sanctuary. Singer Kristin Berardi, saxophonist Rafael Karlen and pianist Sean Foran variously share the composing credits, while vibraphonist Pascal Schumacher ices the cake, and contributes to the sense of the music often floating, or shimmering like the surface of a very still pond in a heatwave.

The collective commitment to a soothing gentleness – broken only occasionally by more robust improvising – is not a commitment to blandness, however: this is the opposite of New Age ambience, in that it is underpinned by just as urgent a desire to engage you emotionally as music with 10 times the ferocity. Berardi mostly sings wordlessly, improvising fluently and blending with Karlen’s tenor to the extent it sounds like a new instrument has been invented. As you’d expect, the deployment of space is key to the album’s success, with Foran ensuring his piano parts breathe, and Schumacher’s busier lines preserving a dancing lightness.