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David Cross / Andrew Keeling — October Is Marigold
(Noisy, 2021, CD)

by Jon Davis, Published 2023-01-02

October Is Marigold Cover art

On his Noisy record label, violinist David Cross released an album in 2006 with pianist Naomi Maki called Unbounded, which was labeled “Electric Chamber Music.” It was the first in a series that now includes three albums; the second was English Sun with Andrew Keeling in 2009, and here we have October Is Marigold, again with Keeling. Each has presented the violinist in an intimate setting, aided by a single collaborator and his effects devices. Keeling is a skilled player on a variety of instruments, but his flute is most prominent on these pieces. According to the liner notes, the music was largely improvised, with the exception of an organ part on one track and a couple of guitar loops, but a listener might well assume these lovely pieces were composed, at least in part. This is a case where the phrase “spontaneous composition” is probably more appropriate than “improvisation,” since the musicians clearly conceived of this work as a whole — there are themes they return to from one piece to another. Many of the moments are gems of touching beauty, but other moments leap into energetic play with flurries of notes that sparkle like sunlight reflecting on water. Throughout, Cross  shows his mastery of the violin, not solely with virtuosity, but with sensitivity — that special combination of a mind that knows what would sound right at a given moment and the technique to make it happen, whether it be a single note held and varied or a nimble arpeggio. Keeling is the perfect partner in the enterprise, a musician of similar skills and sensibilities. The title track is a standout. It’s the one which features the composed organ part, an evocative sequence of chords that provides a setting for the violin and flute to frolic like butterflies in a flower garden. October Is Marigold provides a lovely diversion from a world of harsh chaos, a vision of tender chaos that affirms the better aspects of human life rather than delving into the negatives.

Filed under: New releases, 2021 releases

Related artist(s): David Cross, Andrew Keeling

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