Right Here, Right Now.
You are a precious collaboration.
Pieces, journeys, stories...
Right Here, Right Now.
You are full of improvisations.
A mantra. A practise.
Exploring. Feeling. Listening.
Breathe, Right Here, Right Now.
You are a way of being.
Right Here, Right Now.
You are full of connections and connecting...
Right Here, Right Now.
You have captured my past;
melodies and compositions I wrote as a teenager,
my 1st freely improvised trumpet solo,
my 1st conduction. Breathe.
You are full of my intentions and un-intentions.
You are raw and fragile.
Right Here, Right Now.
You are when my trumpet seems to play itself.
You are as it is.
Let it be.
Right Here, Right Now.
Creative Freedom For All.
British trumpeter Charlotte Keeffe expands her work in more ways than one. Moving from solo to duo to quartets to large ensemble she retains a strong identity. Her full-bodied broad tone and stealthy phrasing are effective regardless of the changes in instrumentation and stimulus provided by her wide range of accompanists, and first and foremost Keeffe shows notable strength of character as she runs the sonic and emotional gamut. Her harmonising with the steely vibrations of guitar and discreet yet penetrating drums and bass on "1200 Photographs" makes for a very impressive overture from which Keeffe builds steadily, becoming intensely lyrical on several intimate laments, and uncompromisingly adventurous on "NoizeMaschin!" where her amalgamations of agitated breath and scrambling tone make for an enticing timbral landscape. Yet as much as Keeffe and all her accompanists thrive on compositions in which the onus is on a kind of detailed finger-painting-voice-printing of sounds, they also handle well situations which call for fewer notes are more largo lines, as is the case on the mysterioso atmosphere of the title track which sees the distinctively ashen and atomising vocals of Phil Minton and Maggie Nicols come forcefully into play. - Kevin Le Gendre, JAZZWISE
Improvising trumpeter Charlotte Keeffe is an extremely versatile and active player; she leads her own quartet, is one of the main organisers of the Mopomoso sessions of improvised music that take place at The Vortex and more recently online. A key figure in the London Improvisers Orchestra (LIO), she is much in demand a soloist with various improvising groups, for example Andrew Woodhead’s group of improvisers and bellringers that has recently recorded the Pendulums album. This album is in essence a showcase for her various projects; we have three tracks with her quartet recorded live at a Jazz at The Cockpit session, three tracks with the London Improvisers Orchestra (LIO) and three smaller scale tracks that feature Charlotte solo or in a duo setting with guitarist Diego Sampieri. The quartet sessions are particularly impressive with their movement between composed sections and freely improvised passages. Each member of the quartet, Moss Freed on guitar, Ashley John Long on double bass, and Ben Handysides on drums has the ability to move between structure and freedom thereby creating constantly evolving pieces. This is definitely one of the ways forward for jazz and improvised music. Charlotte Keeffe is a player of great imagination and sensitivity. The solo and duo pieces show both these aspects of her playing. OM, the duo with Diego Sampieri, is particularly poignant, and The Melody’s In The Post, a solo trumpet and flugelhorn piece inspired by a melody of Alicia Gardener-Trejo’s, makes effective use of electronics. Charlotte’s imagination is also to the fore in the three improvisations with the LIO. These tracks are built around the unique and wonderful textures that a large group of improvisers create when improvising together. Mysterious Breath is a track for 36 improvisers which features her improvising, largely with her trumpet mouthpiece, To Steve Beresford for a smaller group of 18 improvisers is a conduction led by Charlotte as is Right Here, Right Now, for 29 improvisers, This album with its huge variety has captured very effectively the impressive range of Charlotte Keeffe’s activities.
'So many different atmospheres and structures to mindfully explore: Right Here, Right Now is just beautiful and captivating!'
This summer prolific English improvising trumpeter and composer Charlotte Keeffe released her latest album Right Here, Right Now. Lavishly showcasing her accomplishment and versatility, there are nine tracks in all: three have her soloing or in duo; three in her eponymous quartet; and three have Keeffe demonstrating what a great team-player she is in the highly respected London Improvisers Orchestra (LIO). Thus, all in all, this is somewhat of a patchwork quilt of an album. Over the years Keeffe has been active in numerous quality projects and bands, as leader or collaborator, some of the highlights (for this writer) being Andrew Woodhead’s recent Pendulums, Calum Gourlays’ Big Band and last but not least her role as the Musician in Goblin Theatre’s children’s production, The Legend of the Jazz Penguin. A mover and shaker in improvisation circles such as LIO, Lonely Impulse Collective and Mopomoso, Keefe also finds time to serve as Improvised Music Trumpet Professor at London Performing Academy of Music. Of the solo/ duo tracks on Right Here, Right Now, second track OM stands out. A duo with guitarist Diego Sampiri, it begins almost like a relaxation track, but when, with barely summoned energy the trumpet enters, followed by snatches of voice and glimpses of other instrumentation, it becomes almost a sonic depiction of heart-break. The Melody’s in the Post (solo trumpet and flugelhorn) packs a lot of interest into its two and a half minutes, while Noizemaschin’s sputtering trumpet fed through echo chamber is a creative delight. Keeffe’s quartet likewise has a confident and evolved sound, the band members seeming secure with each other. In opening track 1200 Photographs Keeffe’s trumpet is lyrical and strong, while Frisellian electric guitar segues gorgeously with double bass scrags and perfectly placed drum kit interpolations. Sweet, Corn’s chutzpah, pleasing unison trumpet and guitar and bluesy feel leave one wanting more, while in penultimate track, A Horse Named Galaxy, Keefe’s burnished tones truly glow. But perhaps most interesting of all are the LIO tracks. While sometimes gently dominating the proceedings, Keeffe also demonstrates an exquisite sensitivity to the whole Orchestra: no mean feat when there are between 18 and 36 players on these three tracks. In Mysterious Breath/ This One’s For The Bees… the orchestra creates a mildly unsettling ambience with multiple textures within which Keeffe wrings not just bee-noise but multiple timbres, such is her expertise in extended technique. Some heavy electronics add interest, as does the sound of someone, overwrought, slumping across their car horn. (OK I know, but that’s what it evoked in this listener). Meanwhile To Steve Beresford has some hugely fun, Sun Ra-style galumphing and demonstrates that Keeffe is just as happy to contribute judicious chirps and parps as to command the spotlight. The final, title track confirms this, and stands out with its didgeridoo-like sounds at opening and “right here, right now!” exhortations, an emphatic declaration of Keeffe’s passion for improvisation. Right Here, Right Now showcases a highly authoritative voice which can also show tremendous delicacy. A colourful patchwork quilt of an album, this is music that will help keep the circulation moving over the winter, especially for those of us who are energized by improvisation.
Back when Right Here, Right Now came out I was ‘indisposed’. Listening to it in June 2022 in my fully restored state I realise, here’s music that would have been just what I needed at the time. The album ignites with an inexhaustible live recording, 1200 Photographs – a 2019 dramatic reaction from Charlotte Keeffe’s quartet to the trumpeter’s composed riff. It holds forth like a Miles fragment searching for sustenance. (In 1970 Miles Davis brought an underrated electric septet to the Isle Of Wight. Building on fragments, the band soared mind-pulse… the same kinetic fix is what feels present in the Keeffe quartet.) Right Here, drummer, Ben Handysides gets on it in the way Jack DeJohnette and Airto Moreira did with the Davis band. I think it’s because such stuff is deep in the squeeze Ms Keeffe puts on her horn. For example, a momentary breath-pause before teasing a songline – it’s exemplary playing. My only criticism; this snap-shot deserves a few more minutes of exposure. For such a large amount of pictorial evidence - 1200 Photographs, the musical commentary could have done with hanging in the ears for a dozen more choruses. (I know, leave ‘em wanting more.) Later on there’s another track, A Horse Named Galaxy, from the same Cockpit Theatre live quartet session. Gee, it frustratingly (and impressively) repeats the trick, fading just as the four musicians begin peaking on the mountain. I love it. Om, the second RHRN track is a duet between trumpet and guitar; played like a lathe. Smooth foot-pedal chording against beautiful squashed horn-speak, opening out into an intricate audio membrane; just about as exquisite as it gets. The third piece is the first of three pieces which capture Charlotte Keeffe and the London Improvisers Orchestra, two being improvised ‘conductions’ al-la Butch Morris. Not so Mysterious Breath/This One’s For The Bees, this is a combination of composition and free-improv with passages that literally do, draw breath as if inscribing a manuscript. Over the years the LIO regularly produce fabulous music – and there’s plenty of that in evidence here. However, in putting on this album my brain was high-wired for ‘The Keeffe’. That’s what I came to hear. Listen up, Noizemaschin!, complete with exclamation mark, is a five minutes free-improv solo trumpet workout that just about seals all the deals. Right Now in my view Charlotte Keeffe is the brass soloist in Europe. On occasions she reminds me of the great Enrico Rava. There’s also touches of Lester Bowie and, inevitably, Miles but… fortunately, Keeffe is always Keeffe. Right Here on this Noizemaschin! there’s an incredible journeying… through quick-fire repeats, sheets of sound, blowback and clever extensions of instant melody. This is trumpet gold. Ironically on an album containing over twenty minutes worth of a 30 piece orchestra, it’s the five minutes of Noizemaschin! solo trumpet that has me transfixed. I know there are plans for a Charlotte Keeffe Quartet studio recording on Discus. It’s an obvious next move. Meanwhile Right Here, Right Now stays on my system. That ain’t no noise Charlotte… you just put ‘the melody in the post’. - Steve Day, DAY EVANS DALE ENSEMBLE
I looked forward to the compilation of Charlotte Keeffe’s own music with a quartet including guitar, double bass and drums recorded live at the Cockpit Theatre Jazz in the Round in 2019, a large ensemble, the mighty London Improvisers’ Orchestra on three tracks- quite magnificent- bees are suggested as the title implies on the tremulous first piece; the second, ‘To Steve Beresford’ a ‘conduction’ i.e. spontaneously created structures and textures, the sudden silence on 3:30 is stunning, as ‘bass’ sounds such as tuba make way for rippling piano, almost breaking into honky-tonk (!), and woodwinds, an intriguing, teasing piece with growling brass having the final say; the flutes and trumpet doing a marvellous dance, on the third, in Stravinsky territory perhaps, with a spoken mantra at the end; and one duo free improvisation with guitar (‘OM’) - ethereal harmonics and sensitive playing by Keeffe that marks her out as a top contemporary jazz musician- and a 5 minute live free improvisation. ‘Right Here, Right Now’ is the title of the Discus 107 CD. The quartet recordings are snappy, well-structured and played, four minute pieces with dreamy, lingering trumpet notes with repeated motif followed by mazy runs, mercurial guitars and flailing, swishing drums, rocking out on the second. The influence of John McLaughlin seems obvious on guitarist Moss Freed- a whole album of this please!
– Phil Jackson, ACID DRAGON
Right Here, Right Now collects together pieces by trumpet / flugelhorn player Charlotte Keeffe in various different formations – solo with electronics; in a duo with Diego Sampieri (guitar); in the Charlotte Keeffe quartet with Moss Freed (guitar), Ben Handysides (drums) and Ashley John Long (double bass). We also hear Keeffe’s work composing for the London Improvisers Orchestra on three adventurous and frequently unpredictable, playful pieces. The result is a collection that draws out an immediacy of playing and an adaptable, varied tone. The pieces she conducted for the London Improvisers Orchestra veer from intricate, scratchy electronics, howling bells and ominous voices (‘Mysterious Breath / This One’s For The Bees…’) to the joyfully chaotic, cataclysmically euphoric nod to Orchestra stalwart and Flying Lizard par excellence Steve Beresford (‘To Steve Beresford’). Quartet pieces like ‘Sweet, Corn’ are full of enticing energy, the interplay of the rhythm section and Keeffe’s wild, urgent playing reaching several crescendos before pivoting toward hook-y melodies and finally into squalling, beautiful noise. A more contemplative tone can be heard on the pretty ‘A Horse Named Galaxy’, even as Handysides’ drumming seems hellbent on upending the piece toward messier territory. Whether in her quartet or in a duo with Sampieri, you can hear a perfect unity between Keeffe and guitarists, leading to some genuinely breathtaking, intertwined melodic runs on the gentle, captivating ‘OM’ in particular. Another dimension to Keeffe’s all-encompassing approach can be heard on the two solo pieces. Here we find Keeffe subjecting her trumpet and flugelhorn to a series of electronic processes, showcasing yet another side to her playing completely. ‘The Melody’s In The Post’ (inspired by a melody by Alicia Gardener-Trejo) finds her horns fading in and out over a bed of restless, itchy static that sounds like an after-hours Radiophonic Workshop for an astral jazz documentary that sadly never was. Something similar occurs on ‘Noizemaschin!!’, taken from Keeffe’s first live improvised solo set in 2017. Somewhat more restrained in its processing than ‘The Melody’s In The Post’, ‘Noizemaschin!!’ instead relies on washes of reverb and stuttering, chattering, inchoate passages interspersed with rapid note clusters, leading to a ghostly, atmospheric otherworldliness.
Over the past couple of years we’ve been listing dozens of discs from the UK-based Discus label, which is run by Martin Archer. The label has recently passed the 100 mark of releases and what amazes me is the consistency and diversity of all of the discs that myself and Darren B have reviewed. The other thing that amazes me is how well everything is recorded and how many little known British musicians that they’ve introduced us to. Which brings us to Ms. Charlotte Keeffe, trumpeter, flugelhornist and composer. I hadn’t heard of Ms. Keeffe before the past year when she appeared on two Martin Archer CD’s as well as a quartet led by Alex Ward (rel on Relative Pitch). This disc ranges from solos to duo to a quartet and the London Improvers Orchestra. It turns out that this disc is Charlotte Keeffe’s first release as a leader and it includes her first freely improvised trumpet solo and her first conduction. Several pieces feature Ms. Keeffe’s quartet with Moss Freed on guitar, Ashley John Long (Dunmall collaborator) on double bass and Ben Handysides on drums. The quartet kicks things off with “1200 Photographs”, a tightly played, impressive piece with organically written (skeletal) and free sections well integrated. The second piece is an improvised duo for trumpet and electric guitar (Diego Sampieri), it is spacious, eerie and carefully played. Plus it sounds like a continuation (vibe-wise) from the first piece. “Mysterious Breath” is the first of three pieces featuring the massive London Improvisers Orchestra (LIO), who play regular gigs in London and have many discs out on the Emanem label. The LIO members can range anywhere from 15 to 40 musicians. Ms. Keeffe is a member of the 40+ piece orchestra on “Mysterious Breath”, which sounds like someone is directing the massive ensemble. “Sweet Corn” features the quartet live and it is an impressive, tight, quick, flash of exciting ensemble playing. The second piece for LIO, “To Steve Beresford’ is intense, focused improv at its best. Mr. Beresford takes a wonderful, humorous, in between categories piano solo midway which is another highlight. “Noizemaschin!!” is for solo, improvised trumpet with some effects. It is nice to hear some strong close-mic’d trumpet weirdness from an under-recognized talent. “A Horse Named Galaxy” is played by Ms. Keeffe’s quartet and it has a melody which one could hum or whistle yet there is nothing cheesy about it, showing a much different side to Ms. Keeffe’s writing. The final piece, the title track, is a longer excursion for the LIO with Ms. Keeffe conducting. This piece buzzes, floats, creating a dream-like vibe which organically shifts through different connected sections. Like everything we’ve heard on Discus, this is a winner which sounds great on many levels.
Wandering trumpeter and member of the extended London Improvisers Orchestra, Charlotte Keeffe‘s first solo album finds here drawing together various facets of her abilities, ranging from her solo trumpet improvisation via her jazz quartet recordings through to the sprawling conduction of the pieces she has arranged for the LIO. What holds all these disparate pieces together is Charlotte’s shining love of the trumpet and the mysterious roads down which she finds herself winding. The album opens with the quartet: Moss Freed on guitar, Ben Handysides on drums and Ashley John Long on double bass. Their fizzing blend of melancholy with sharp stabs of staccato guitar finds the trumpet looking back at old memories. The pieces sound live, with scraps of percussion and bass sketching in the corners, filling in the blanks. They are as much about thought as sound and you can feel the projection between them as the rimshots scatter. It is subtle in places, nuanced; but when the circular rhythm of “Sweet Corn” hits, it just carries you away, with the trumpet second guessing where next to go. At times, the guitar reflects Django Reinhardt back on a bed of hurried rhythm and smooth supple trumpet, the sweet and sunny disposition warmed by the burr of bass. The pieces with the LIO are far more random. “Mysterious Breath / This One’s For The Bees” is like a storm in a forest, all those little sounds unseen and hidden away. There are the best part of forty players beavering away here, but the overall sensation is that of generous space and patience. Moonlight hovers above with electronics a distant drone, groups of birds cackle in branches as the players take it in turns to colour in the monochrome surroundings. A tuba plums the depths on “To Steve Beresford” as a gang of miscreants make their laughing way home, uproar in the streets, hiding behind dustbins and hedges. Elsewhere, Charlotte goes it alone on the brief improv “The Melody’s In The Post”, which sounds as though it were recorded in a lead-lined bunker, the trumpet dripping with perspiration, while “Noizemaschin” has many languid voices, a low rasp or a distant groan rising to the sound of Miles Davis suffocating Herb Alpert. You feel she is reminding herself of things in the past but dragging them barrelling into the future. Her capabilities with trumpet and flugelhorn are widespread and evoke all sorts of jazzy odysseys, but with the assistance of guitarist Diego Sampieri, we find ourselves lying back against sand dunes, wind just stirring the long grass with the last rays of evening sun casting a golden glow. It is that warm fuzzy feeling that only a trumpet can conjure; part heartache, part joy. This album has it all and leaves no doubts at all.
Trumpeter Charlotte Keeffe is a passionate musician operating in the contexts of improvisation, experimental music and jazz in the UK. So far you can know her from her collaboration with the Mopomoso Workshop Group, the London Improvisers Orchestra and Martin Archer’s Anthropology Ensemble. Recently she made noteworthy contributions to another project of Martin Archer, the ‘Hi-Res Heart’ album. This performance makes her debut album a logical and hoped-for next step. The nine works on ‘Right here, right now’ give a nice overview of her activity. The CD counts two solo improvisations and one duo improvisation with Diego Sampieri on guitar. Three live recordings of her quartet with Moss Freed (guitar), Ben Handysides (drums) and Ashley John Long (double bass) is presented. Also, the CD offers two improvisations with the London Improvisers Orchestra. In both solo improvisations ‘The Melody’s In The Post’, ‘Noizemaschin!!’ practises live electronic treatment. In ‘Noizemaschin’ she plays with reverb, and ‘The Melody’s In The Post’ embed her playing in a surreal environment. The duo improvisation ‘Om’ with Sampieri is an impressive melodic and ethereal improvisation demonstration fine interplay between the two. Very captivating. The three improvisations by her quartet give an impression of what her quartet is about. Melody-based improvisations that sound very fresh and engaging, with fine playing by Freed on electric guitar. The London Improvisers Orchestra is a large ensemble focused on free and conducted improvisation. On ‘To Steve Beresford’ and the title track, Keeffe is listed for ‘conduction’, meaning directing and conducting the ensemble. In the case of the title track, this results in a spaced-out improvisation going through different sections. ‘Mysterious Breath/This One’s For The Beas’ has muted trumpet playing by Keeffe in a sound exploration with the involvement of many musicians, plus an important role for electronics, more than in the other two improvisations from this impressive collective. The album offers a varied collection of adventurous improvisations in different constellations. Underlining that Keeffe is a multi-sided, very inventive and inspired musician.
The explicit and declared position about the ephemeral situativity – here and now – of improvisational practice is the title of this project by trumpeter (and fluglist) Charlotte Keeffe that reaps the fruits of several live and studio musical performances between 2016 and 2019. Between modern jazz, avant-garde and free improvisation, the album offers different sound atmospheres, whose variety, held together consistently by the protagonist of the album, is also functioning by the different type of formations with which the trumpeter engages, who shows to be at ease in the most different situations: dialoguing with the guitar of Diego Sampieri (OM),interacting with electronics (The Melody's In The Post and Noizemaschin!!, engaging in interplay with the quartet formed together with Moss Freed on guitar, Ben Handysides on drums and Ashley John Long on double bass (200 Photographs, A Horse Named Galaxy and Sweet, Corn)and, finally, "conducting" the improvisation of the London Improvisers Orchestra (Breath / This One's For The Bees... , To Steve Beresford, Right Here, Right Now). The pieces of the quartet, built around the idea of the theme and then developed through a skilful recourse to improvisational interplay, are the ones I prefer; but also the collective improvisation with the London orchestra offers interesting moments, although they are inevitably more bound to the (past) improvisational situation and less suitable for fixing in a recording. Overall, it is an interesting compilation, which has the merit of presenting the different facets of a quality musician.
La bottega di Martin Archer continua a forgiare e a sfornare talenti di cui tener conto per idee e padronanza strumentale. Sono requisiti sfoggiati anche da Charlotte Keeffe, giunta al suo primo disco da titolare ma già coinvolta in altre operazioni discografiche della Discus, nonché attiva in collettivi come Il Mopomoso Workshop Ensemble e la London Improvisers Orchestra. Si tratta di una musicista assai versatile come provano le diverse situazioni qui documentate, dove è all’opera con il suo quartetto, in duo con un altro chitarrista (Samperi), in solo e alla guida di differenti organici della LIO. Ne risultano paesaggi sonori variegati nei quali si ritrova costante il fraseggio repentino, la sonorità sognante e corposa al contempo della sua tromba, nonché una capacità complessiva di gestire la gamma sonora con la quale interagisce e/o gestisce. Tre sono le improvvisazioni in quartetto (ma un tema c’è sempre), talora venate di malinconia con le note sognanti e persistenti della tromba (1200 Photographs), graffianti e ricche di nerbo (Sweet, Corn) con la chitarra di Moss Freed in bella evidenza e la leader imperiosa nell’indicare la direzione da seguire, melodiche, quasi contemplative invece in A Horse Named Galaxy. Affascinanti le due escursioni solitarie, The Melody’s In The Post, con impiego di tromba e flicorno che si precipitano verso un tema ma agguantato e Noizemaschin!!, solo per tromba, dal suono granuloso reiterato, strato su strato, screziato da irruzioni di acuti squillanti. Un monologo ben strutturato, al punto da apparire come scritto e non improvvisato. Atmosfera lunare nel duo con Sampieri, OM, sorta di ambient jazz dai toni delicati e sognanti, prova ulteriore della felice interazione tra Keeffe e i chitarristi. Infine, le tre porzioni in compagnia (folta) della LIO. In Mysterious Breath /This One’s For The Bees… uno sciame di suoni misteriosi (sono trentasei i musicisti coinvolti) circonda e talora avvolge la tromba di Keeffe, qui nel doppio ruolo di solista e conduttrice. In To Steve Beresford per un organico ridotto, si fa per dire, a soli diciotto improvvisatori, si predilige invece il gioco, la citazione, finanche lo sberleffo, oltre che divagazioni e frammenti, rendendo davvero omaggio all’umorismo musicale del musicista, che per altro è della partita, impegnato a suonare il pianoforte con tanto di assolo. Infine il brano eponimo, nel quale Keeffe dirige ventinove partner. È un altro cambio di scena perché qui si è avvolti in una nuvola di suoni, dapprima spettrali, in seguito acuti e turbolenti, infine dissipata dalla declamazione del titolo a mo’ di mantra.
A comparatively new figure on the London music scene, trumpeter and flugelhorn player Charlotte Keeffe first came to the attention of many London musicians when, not long after achieving her M.Mus. degree, she was an early attendee at the weekly Mopomoso workshop that was set up by the late great guitarist John Russell, in the summer of 2016. Although she was soon a lynchpin of the workshop, Keeffe was often absent as she was involved in an impressively eclectic range of other musical activities. Despite her ability to turn her hand to many styles, it was soon apparent that jazz, improv and experimental music were her favourites and fortes. It was not long until Keeffe was a member of the London Improvisers Orchestra (LIO), not just featured as a player but also as a leader of conductions. In addition to solo performances, she was soon recruited by none other than clarinettist and guitarist Alex Ward to be a key member of his groupings Item 4 and Item 10, impressive given Ward's eye for talented bandmates. She also formed her own foursome, the Charlotte Keeffe Quartet (CKQ) which gave a sell-out performance at the 2019 Lancaster Jazz Festival. With so much musical activity in her life, it is not surprising that this album, Right Here, Right Now — her second appearance on Martin Archer's Discus label — should be a compilation of nine tracks from 2016 to 2019 which include two solo pieces, one trumpet/guitar duo improvisation, three CKQ Keeffe-composed pieces and three LIO conductions; along the way, those tracks include milestones such as melodies and compositions Keeffe wrote as a teenager, her first freely improvised trumpet solo and her first LIO conduction. In the wrong hands, such diversity could easily have become an incoherent pot pourri of contrasting, or even conflicting, styles. To the credit of Keeffe and the other musicians here, that does not happen. At root, the reason is clear and simple; Keeffe's own playing runs through the entire album like a golden thread, providing a clear reference point and a coherent vision. The message is plain and simple: Keeffe has arrived and she is going to be around for a very long time; yes, she is one to watch out for...
There’s a positive air of the sampler album about this set, and at the same time the feeling of a showcase for Keefe’s undoubted talents, all of which is underscored by the fact that the music documents Keeffe solo and in groupings ranging from duo to large ensemble. The quartet of Keeffe, Freed, Handysides and Long go about some musical business with greater collective purpose than some of the hyped stars of contemporary jazz, at least as far as I can hear, typically on 1200 Photographs and Sweet Corn. The brevity of both is frustrating because the depth of interplay is exceptional and thus worth far more expansive airing. The duo of Keeffe and Sampieri is essentially more reflective, although such observation is far from unqualified because their work has such an air of potential about it that what we hear on this occasion seems like just one facet of what they’re capable of. As it is, such is the starkness of the setting that the ear homes in on Keeffe’s expansive tone and ear for knowing what (and when) not to play. Perhaps inevitably the sense of intimacy extends as far as Keeffe’s solo improvising on Noizemaschin!! where an echo leaves the listener intrigued as to where the piece was recorded, not least because Keeffe’s ear is sharp enough to incorporate the effect into her work. Keeffe’s talent for directing and conducting an improvising ensemble is documented on Mysterious Breath / This One’s For The Bees, To Steve Beresford and Right Here, Right Now, all of which are examples of how it would be churlish to regard her efforts as interventionist in terms of improvised music. In every case the results are intriguing and for very good reasons, not the least of them being the silent interplay between her actions and the players involved.
More like a CV or in contemporary terms a LinkedIn page, British trumpeter/flugelhornist Charlotte Keeffe provides a comprehensive resumé of her skills during this CD’s nine tracks. That means she’s featured playing solo, in duo, leading a quartet and playing and conducting the London Improvisers Orchestra. (LIO) There’s impressive work throughout, but like the person who provides too much detail on a job application, a tighter focus would be preferable. As it is she demonstrates conclusively that she can maintain her capillary authority in free improvisations with guitarist Diego Sampieri and playing solo. Swaying against the guitarist’s delicate finger picking, she positions her slurring exposition with mutes, half-valve and other effects. On her own she invokes electronics for intricate live sampling and timbre multiplication that allow her to cascade bugling tones on one track and otherwise communicate the essence of “The Melody’s in the Post” with warm expansions of tangents and textures. The three tracks with guitarist Moss Freed, bassist Ashley John Long and drummer Ben Handysides build on the quartet’s strengths with plunger blasts or shifted shading prodding the guitarist to counter her expositions with staccato string stings, intense strums or frails. “A Horse Named Galaxy” adds a swing feel with Keeffe’s brassy spurts indicating Bop, Cool and Free tropes as the double bass thumps and Freed doubles the brass player’s part with clucking rhythm guitar work. Undaunted by the weight of LIO’s instrumentation that at times swells to 40 musicians, in her conductions Keeffe is insightful enough not to call on too many soloists. Embroidering percussion thumps and electronic drones with squeals and split tones from the horns, sequences are mercurial and measured. The final conduction gives the disc its title. Impressively its evolution from crescendos to microtones makes space for solo sequences highlighting tailgate trombone blasts, flute trills, trumpet screeching and voice verbalization, “To Steve Beresford” makes better use of the orchestra. The track is directed so that stop-time patterning and shuffle expositions, driven by percussion strokes and split tone reed deconstruction, draw back enough to emphasize Dave Powell’s slick tuba burbles, Trevor Taylor’s vibes clanks and Neil Metcalfe’s flute whistles. When the dedicatee finally injects cascades of rickety-tick pseudo-ragtime piano, the disrupted narrative remains constant enough to slip, slide and smear to a concentrated finale. There’s nothing to complain about on Keeffe’s premier session. Now that’s she’s demonstrated her dynamic range though she should perhaps enlarge on just one of those skills on her next outing.