An album for those reflective moments when time stands still.
ECM 2794 / 587 0512
Arve Henriksen (trumpet, electronics); Harmen Fraanje (piano)
Recorded January 2023
Another dream pairing, Henriksen and Fraanje have been paying together since their impromptu meeting and performance at the 50th Anniversary celebrations for ECM back in 2019.
After being introduced to each other, the two musicians shortly afterwards found themselves onstage presenting an improvised set to an enthralled audience.
Quickly realising that something quite special was occurring with Henriksen and Fraanje finding much common ground, it seemed only appropriate to keep the musical relationship that had developed alive and allowed to develop.
The intervening years have witnessed the partnership flourish and is now significantly greater than the sum of its parts. The music has evolved from freely improvised pieces to more structured compositions, predominantly written by the pianist who has three compositions featured on this exquisite recording.
The music presented on Touch of Time is quietly mesmerizing. Delicate melodies passed back and fore between the duo, the solos appearing organically out of the dialogues. These solo statements often service to prompt a further conversation, and even though these are at whisper we are privileged too be able to eavesdrop.
Using what may be perceived as a narrow framework, the duo conjures up a myriad of moods and emotions from the opening ‘Melancholia’ and the retrained joy apparent in ‘The Beauty of Sundays’. The electronics are used sparingly and tastefully, never detracting from the acoustic instruments and melodies but gently create or enhance the texture and direction of the music, as heard on ‘Redream’ and ‘Mirror Image’.
The combination of Fraanje lyrical and sensitive approach at the keyboad and Henriksen’s pure toned trumpet is a delight and signals a highly fruitful partnership. Henriksen’s distinctive trumpet playing is now becoming one of the most readily identifiable sounds in contemporary music, and his quiet yet brassy open trumpet has a tone that is capable of a purity and beauty seldom heard on the instrument.
Coupled with his control of the instrument, at times sounding more the traditional Japanese shakuhachi than a brass instrument the timbral range is extraordinary.
With Fraanje’s economical touch at the piano there is a wonderful balance between shared melodic duties and accompaniment. The depth of feeling that the pianist brings to the music seems to allow Henriksen’s trumpet notes to hang in the air, supported by the gossamer light phrases form the hammers vibrating the strings of the piano, and this is no more evident than on the closing ‘Passing on the Past’.
This is a beautiful album that quietly weaves its magic over ten compositions that have much to say and do so in hushed tones. An album for those reflective moments when time stands still.