Birchall & Woolhouse: The Scenery of Life Unfolding
Shannon Birchall – bass; Jeremy Woolhouse – piano
Unquestionably, music about emotions and a very intimate collusion between the elegantly lyrical compositions of the pianist/composer and the rich interplay of the virtuoso bass player provide a schema for what could so easily be a cinematic soundtrack. The story of the film would tell of passion; brooding, melancholic and wistful, each mood is underscored by the bowing of the bass.
The track titles echo this thinking; look at and of course listen to Echoes in Emptiness, Virtual
Affection, Lost Friends, Darkening Shadows and Tears for the Summer and feel the spaciousness, brought about perhaps by absence? Yet this space is also airy, harbinger perhaps of freedom, as the music also brings with it at times a sense of unperturbed serenity.
Once again among CDs recently reviewed, we have an album which defies categorization really, much of the musical training and experience of the duo lending them a classical or 'light classical' ambience, while there still remain the influences of both contemporary-European and Afro-American jazz. This is not music to excite you – rather it may render you reflective: contemplative of the worlds of weightlessness, obscurity, fantasy, chimera and apprehension. No surprise there – Woolhouse has been an exponent of the Alexander Technique for some 16 years; it goes hand-in-hand with exercises in relaxation.
Reviewed by Ken Cheetham for Jazzviews