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JULIE TIPPETTS & MARTIN ARCHER ~ ILLUSION
DISCUS 131 (Barcode: 5051078993720) ~ UK ~ Avant-Garde Jazz

Recorded: 2014 - 2021 Released: 2022

This is the fifth album by the British Jazz duo comprising of iconic vocalist / songwriter Julie TippettsFind albums by this artist and multi-instrumentalist / composer / DiscusFind albums on this label label owner Martin ArcherFind albums by this artist. The music was created over a period of six years since the release of the duo’s previous album, materializing two CDs worth of musical magic.

The first CD, subtitled “Circle Of Whispers” presents thirteen songs performed by Tippetts and accompanied mostly by small ensembles between a duet and a quartet and in some cases including additionally a string trio. A long list of musicians take part in these recordings.

The second CD, subtitled “Illusion Suite”, is a seven-part continuous suite, performed by the duo, a sextet of instrumentalist, a quintet of electronicists and a string trio.

The music is quite different on these two CDs, which is a wonderful surprise. All the music is of course original and co-created by Tippetts and Arches (except in two cases).

“Circle Of Whispers” is almost completely “well behaved”, presenting Tippetts singing lyrics (sometimes with overdubs) and rarely using vocalese. The songs have clearly defined melody lines, often bordering on Rock, some with a subtle and sublime Jazzy arrangements and others with an ambient / electronics background, brilliantly supported by Archer on keyboards, B. J. ColeFind albums by this artist on guitar, Laura ColeFind albums by this artist on piano and other excellent instrumentalists. Listeners familiar with Tippetts extensive recording career will be fondly reminded of her early (post Pop) solo career, with albums like “Sunset GlowFind albums with this title”. The entire album is absolutely fascinating from start to finish, and IMHO it is her strongest album in many years. Her vocal abilities are completely untouched by time and the creativity and imagination encapsulated in these songs are staggering. Hearing this music made me think that perhaps not all is lost in music yet.

“Illusion Suite” is closer to the Avant-Garde side of the duo’s work in the past, with Tippetts still singing lyrics, but also using her voice (often overdubbed) in an instrumental capacity, singing extensive and not surprisingly breathtaking vocalese parts. The music is based on melodic themes, but is more open and improvised. One might define the suite as a concerto for multiple voices (sung by the same person) and an electro-acoustic ensemble.

The excellent rhythm section of bassist Seth BennettFind albums by this artist and drummer Peter FaircloughFind albums by this artist manages to give the music a steady pulsating continuity, which helps the listen to follow the complex vocal and instrumental parts. Guitarist Anton HunterFind albums by this artist, trombonist George MurrayFind albums by this artist, vibraphonist Corey MwambaFind albums by this artist and trumpeter Charlotte KeeffeFind albums by this artist are in charge of the instrumental ornamentation, with Archer omnipresent keyboards, woodwinds and electronics creating the “wall of sound” background. This is, what I call, quite a journey…

Overall, this is a brilliant piece of composing, performing, songwriting and everything else involved in creating a true “magic carpet ride”, which takes the listener places he probably never dreamt of. A most welcome comeback from Tippetts, which always leaves me waiting for more… Bless you and thanks for this gift of music!
Updated: 09/04/2022Posted: 09/04/2022CD 2 Mini-Sleeve Recommend To A Friend

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