LABELS: ECM New Series
ALBUM TITLE: The Dowland Project: Night Sessions
WORKS: Night Sessions
PERFORMER: John Potter (saxophone), Stephen Stubbs (lute, chitarrone, baroque guitar, vihuela), John Surman (soprano sax, bass clarinet, percussion), Milos Valent (violin, viola), Barry Guy (double bass)
CATALOGUE NO: 2018
These recordings, left-overs from the Project’s previous albums (the dates given, 2001 and 2006, tie in with the sessions that produced Care Charming Sleep and Romaria) are no mere off-cuts. After the final Sleep session, label-owner Manfred Eicher wanted to go record some more immediately. Potter says the ensemble was happy to do this, but had run out of music. However, ‘as it happened, I had some medieval poems with me, so we decided to see what we could do with those’. These night pieces were done at one attempt. There are also ‘day-time’ pieces, worked up from fragments of late-Mediaeval/early-Renaissance manuscripts.
Barry Guy and Maya Homburger appear only on the 2001 recordings, Milos Valent only on the later session, but all members of both editions of the Project can call on a deep understanding and wide experience of improvisation, a skill still expected of musicians when these pieces were devised.
This album has all the virtues and delights of the previous ones. If anything, it’s more challenging and experimental. These immaculate, lithe performances, replete with passion, adventurousness, exemplary phrasing and timing and tonal beauty, will make your scalp prickle.