Loretta Palmeiro & Mark Isaacs


(Some of Two Parts)


Even more than with verbal conversation, the art of improvised musical dialogue is fundamentally one of listening. An instrument like the piano can potentially fill every corner of the sonic canvas, and here you hear Mark Isaacs creating space to beckon soprano saxophonist Loretta Palmeiro into the opening All Who Travel with Us – Part 1, and then feeding her harmonic options for discussion, before they travel deep into a land of melodic luxuriance.

Palmeiro makes a gorgeous, clean-edged, mostly vibrato-free sound on soprano, devoid of any nasal quality. She latches on to Isaacs’ ideas with alacrity, and when he steps back from the foreground she fills it with spearing, heart-rending lines, especially on the lament-like Part 2. They jointly develop narratives with that singular magic of high-calibre improvising, whereby one is left wondering how we got here from where we were five minutes ago. The third part initially seems to speak of well-being and fulfilment, until Isaacs churns up some mighty agitation at the piano’s bottom end. His keen instincts for extemporising form may also be heard on his simultaneously-released collection of solo piano pieces, Forgotten Fields.