Martin Pyne & David Beebee
Ripples
Discus 145CD
(2022)
Available formats: CD/DL

 

“Ripples is quality made light of, echoes struck on sound’s surface and given weight by the clarity of intent.” – Steve Day, November 2022

“Like a leaf caught in the surge of a stream. This is a feeling that haunts the album in general, allowing the listener to be gathered up, welcomed and then set adrift somewhere new, welcoming yet unexpected.” – Mr Olivetti, FREQ

“The invitation to calm contemplation of the soundscape is the thing itself.” – KATHODIK

Martin Pyne – vibraphone
David Beebee – electric piano

Music the listener can sink into, immersing themselves in lush textures, and bathing in the richly varied harmonies and sonorities. Ripples began life with an experimental session designed to explore the combination of vibraphone and Fender Rhodes electric piano. The results are delightful and surprising. The sonorities bleed into one another so that sometimes it’s difficult to tell where one ends and the other begins: this creates the extraordinary liquid quality of the music, and this in turn informed the album title, along with the titles of several of the pieces. It’s music that’s both intimate and intense.

Most of this music is entirely improvised in real time. However, Pyne and Beebee both contribute a couple of lyrical pieces which are dotted through the sequence. The opening track is an improvisation on fragments from an angular composition by Martin Pyne, which eventually arrives at a bold statement of the original melody.

Martin felt the time was right for a recording project where he focused purely on the vibraphone, and this recording represents very clearly where he is right now in the development of his expressive vocabulary. For David, this was a great opportunity to explore the sound world of the Rhodes piano, embellished with various FX pedals, and he relished the emphasis on unfettered improvisation.

 

Reviews

The idea of pairing Fender Rhodes with vibraphone feels peculiar because the instruments share a sonic range, both in terms of the vibrato that gives their notes a bell-like timbre and the tendency of players of both instruments to use the higher register of the instruments to push through the sounds of their bandmates. So, this duet raises interesting challenges; not least in terms of establishing sufficient separation of the instruments. But it was the lack of separation that Pyne and Beebee noticed in their initial sessions, and which led to the album’s title (and the titles of several of the tracks which refer to water and mythical creatures that live in or near water). It could be a pleasant parlour game among jazz fans to name other Rhodes / Vibraphone duets – especially, if you say that Corea and Burton are too obvious. Although, mentioning these two gives opportunity for a compare and contrast in terms of approach and music. And, to my ears, Pyne and Beebee easily stand the comparison, with a riveting performance that offers a very distinctive sound. For one thing, they revel in the potential of both instruments to let notes hang in the air. Eight of the twelve tunes were improvised and the decisions on who should play the melodic lines and where to place harmonic or rhythmic textures are explored and resolved in real-time. This must have required not only an appreciation of the textures of the sounds that each instrument produces but also the playing style of the other person. This produces complex patterns that ebb and flow (to continue the aquatic metaphor) but which always end in richly rewarding resolutions. To take examples of a couple of my favourite pieces in the set. The improvised ‘Dance of the damsel flies’, track 4, begins with vibraphone tapping out a percussive rhythm while the Rhodes plays a gentle arpeggio which is then picked up with urgency by the vibraphone and the Rhodes accompanies this with subtle variations. The overall effect is so clearly one of a fast-flying insect flying across flowing water that it is impossible to listen to the track without visualising this. Their take on Pyne’s composition ‘Sodankyla’, track 7, is wistful, melancholy and warming – despite the title’s reference to a town north of the arctic circle. It is the slower, more measured pieces that stay with you. Perhaps because (last aquatic reference…) the atmospheric music washes over you in ways that are relaxing, hypnotic and beguiling. These pieces capture the ways in which the dynamics of the duets easily move from the gentleness of ballads to something more frenetic. The experimentation comes not only from finding the goldilocks zone which allows both instruments to shine, but also (particularly in ‘Night music’, track 9, and ‘Kingfisher blue’, track 11) in the ways that each player explores non-standard sounds from their instruments and works these into the pieces. I am very much hoping that this album is the start of a series from this duet and looking forward to hearing more from them. – Chris Baber, JAZZ VIEWS

Both the vibraphone and electric piano have similar feels and textures, so on first glance, it would seem that such a melding of instrumental tone colors would result in something on the faceless side. Quite the contrary. Vibist Pyne and pianist Beebee have managed to issue one of this year’s most sumptuous, enchanting, and subtly involving recordings, the kind of record that quietly sneaks up on you then sucks you in like an anthropomorphic tornado. The duo state that the studio session was essentially an experiment to see how each of their instrument’s sonorities would work against the other. I’d submit that an entire ‘chorus’ of impressions are wrought: each instrument simultaneously blends, contradicts, complements, and bounces off the other. Reference points are frequently inferred—Bobby Hutcherson, Joe Locke, Herbie Hancock in minimalist mode, very early Chick Corea—but the recording Ripples most summons is the similarly-augured (if little known) duo project by Alan Gowen and Hugh Hopper, Two Rainbows Daily. Though that disc fomented a meeting between electric piano and bass, Pyne and Beebee’s collaboration reaches similar conclusions and, like Rainbows, is endlessly absorbing. “Wabi Sabi” is a case in point. While Pyne rattles off a melancholic, tender rustle of bell-like tones, Beebee’s electric piano arises to become a simpatico resonator, until the tonalities become an intertwined mechanism of gently cascading aural velvet. The subsequent “Night Music” well epitomizes how continually pleasing this recording is on the ear and psyche. Pyne and Beebee simply dazzle here, a quiet storm of percussive thrush, waterfall-like timbre, and phosphorescent ardor that is as lush and liquifying as all get out. Ostensibly ‘jazz’, but you’d be hard-pressed to adopt that term here, as the duo stretch the definition of such pat categorizations to the point where genre effectively becomes meaningless. Just gorgeous, pure music. Softly, as in a morning sunrise. – Darren Bergstein, Downtown Music Gallery NYC

Milt Jackson and John Lewis, Gary Burton and Keith Jarrett, even Tubby Hayes and Stan Tracey – just three very different examples of vibraphone/piano jazz improvisations from a long list of possibilities. Nevertheless, unlike other combinations of instruments, a vibes/keys duet still feels as if it contains a lot of scope for genuine new discoveries. For example the vibraphone and the electric piano can sustain. Being able to hold tight to the sound of ‘the hit’ offers a percussionist a unique soundscape. Potentially a held drone provides a harmonic structure outside standard western scales. Perhaps not surprisingly, Martin Pyne and David Beebee found the need to organise “an experimental session to see how duets for vibraphone and Fender Rhodes piano would work.” What did they come up with? Mr Beebee’s pithy composition Wabi Sabi demonstrates just how close the plugged in electricity of both instruments can close any gap between them; a facility that these musicians use to their advantage. David Beebee’s approach to the Rhodes carries a lot of Herbie Hancock’s touch in its shapings. Nothing wrong in that, there’s a good case for stating that Hancock defined the instrument, here in the company of Martin Pyne’s foreground role the piano acts like a way-mark. Just like Herbie, Beebee does it with finesse. This is an album that speaks from a calm focused place yet at the same time is constantly asking the listening ear to, not just bath in its Ripples, but to interrogate what’s actually happening. To use its own metaphor, the depth of the hit (on water) is arguably most evident on Night Music, which uses ‘prepared’ vibraphone as per John Cage’s piano compositions (and subsequently a number of other pianists and string players). For me Night Music is the stand out track precisely because it emphasises the percussive lay out of the vibes against the Rhodes’ mechanics. It opens up future explorations for Pyne and Beebee. I have a feeling there is more to come from this pairing. The Discus Label always seeks to offer up possible directions for music. It is optimistic in that sense, a way forward. In the current climate that is surely to be welcomed. I wish Martin Pyne and David Beebee sight of the next ripple, only a stone’s throw away. Ripples is quality made light of, echoes struck on sound’s surface and given weight by the clarity of intent. – Steve Day, November 2022

In the hands of Beebee and Pyne, these two instruments work out very well. This is demonstrated in their spun-out duets of reflective and relaxed jazz-inspired tunes. Often in a lyrical style like the first two works on this release – ‘Makin the Point’and ‘Wabi Sabi’ – respectively composed by Pyne and Beebee. Most works are free improvisations and evolve in a calm and harmonic atmosphere. Nonetheless, a lot is happening in their well-proportioned and subtle interplay. And I especially liked the deep sound and sonorities of the Fender Rhodes that beautifully converges with the sound qualities of the vibraphone. – Dolf Mulder, VITAL WEEKLY http://www.vitalweekly.net/1363.html

Martin Pyne‘s idea behind Ripples, that of duets between his vibraphone and David Beebee‘s Fender Rhodes, had me hooked immediately. The gauzy, shimmering haze of the vibes let loose from formal shackles and allowed to wander at will is accompanied by the sympathetic shiver of the Rhodes, and sounds like a dream made real and spread across the twelves watery vistas enclosed. The introduction is gentle, the two main characters presented to the listener and allowed to subtly insinuate. The amazing quaver of the vibes with the liquidly soft focus of the Rhodes as an understated foil, its waking bass and jazzy asides showing the two different approaches coalescing, tied together briefly by the fleeting nature of the pieces. Some of the rippling effects of the vibes are delightful and really engage the listener as if perched right on your shoulder. It feels intimate; and although the vibes are at the forefront, the Rhodes’ glissandos tuck in behind like a motorcycle passenger, leaning in the direction, helping with balance yet structurally separate. Dreamlike textures scamper like mice in places, while in others they tread far more carefully; it is impossible to predict where a track may lead and the improv nature of the pieces and their generous length means that they twist and turn. Then a Steve Reichian obsessiveness will briefly nail down a rhythm and allow the piano to unfurl, stepping across the calm water, intent but aware of the surroundings, which are ever-sparkling. In places I am reminded of the sadly departed Martin Duffy and his work with the latter period Felt, that late-night sleepy jazz feel, empty streets, the lazy sun considering an appearance, sleep in its eye, casting a desultory look at a clandestine meeting. The dapple of starlight edges towards you, the lightness and fragility of the sounds causing them to almost disappear as they dance across the surface while below slower creatures roam, the profundity of the Rhodes chords a basso tremor. There is a whiff of autumnal romance, a familiar melody just out of reach, the Rhodes unruffled and allowing the tone of the vibes to die away, the importance of this gradual decay never becoming lost on the duo. Their willingness for the mood of the each piece to set the pace is a great success and their interaction is just lovely, never oppressive and never demanding. There is a minimalist feel to some pieces, and someone somewhere tapping on the body of something puts it at a withdrawn distance and then reflects, further emphasising the ring of the notes. Although rhythm appears in places, so abstraction is its mirror image, both moving as one, differing textures and feelings shimmering into a haze, a watery wash of sound. You could just drift off in some pieces and some have a feel of something reminiscent, something you can’t quite put your finger on but are happy to allow to drift away, like a leaf caught in the surge of a stream. This is a feeling that haunts the album in general, allowing the listener to be gathered up, welcomed and then set adrift somewhere new, welcoming yet unexpected. – Mr Olivetti, FREQ

Ripples (DISCUS 145) brings together MARTIN PYNE’s vibraphone and DAVID BEEBEE’s fx-modulated Fender Rhodes in the flow of preformed and jointly freely formed pieces on both sides. Your own impression of something liquid and dancing in their icy-crystalline fluctuating and organ jellyfish led her to name the leitmotif: With the Water spirits ‘Kawako’ and ‘Peg Powler’, dragonflies (‘Dance of the Damsel Flies’), the lively kingfisher (‘Kingfisher Blue’), the Lappish town ‘Sodankylä’ on the Kitines, with ‘Acheron, River of Woe’ and ‘Naiad’. With ‘Seeking Refuge’ and the Mediterranean Sea or the Channel as a threatening wet grave and to the balladic melancholy question ‘Why?’ they give in to their striving for Beauty and wellness are the harsh framework of what happens at the same time. ‘Wabi Sabi’ draws the consequence from this to always consider cracks and fractures and to integrate. Pyne, married BBC Radio 3 presenter Sarah Walker, leader of a jazzy quartet, song composer for Laura Zakian, Creator of ballet scores and a small percussion orchestra alone, is already part of MPH, Archer-Keeffe-Pyne, Meson and Army Of Briars Martin Archer’s Discworld. Beebee, anchored in Seaford on the south coast, plays with sax lyricist Julian Costello in Fish and leads a trio and quartet with Eric Ford on drums. If you are looking for the perfect sound for ‘Glasperlenspiel’, finds him in Pyne’s stick-playing pearls, only for ‘Night Music’ he clicks on a detuned carillon as if with chopsticks. Who knows wants how soft water sounds, finds the answer at Beebee. – Rigobert Dittmann, BAD ALCHEMY

Du jazz calme, bien agréable à écouter et qui ne fait pas de vagues, mais des ondulations où on peut s’immerger … C’est le résultat d’une expérimentation visant à explorer quel résultat pourrait donner la combinaison des 2 instruments. Et le résultat, essentiellement basé sur des improvisations, était particulièrement positif. – Guy Stuckens, RADIO AIR LIBRE

“Ripples” … kleine sich kräuselnde Wellen, Wasserplätschern. Ein entsprechendes Bild (wenn auch farblich verfremdet) ziert daher auch das Cover der Hülle, in der “Ripples” von Martin Pyne und David Beebee steckt. Die beiden Protagonisten bedienen hier nur ein Vibraphon (Pyne – siehe auch MPH), ein E-Piano (Beebee) und allerlei Effektgerätschaft. Im April und im Mai 2022 trafen sich die beiden dreimal zum Improvisieren und Aufnehmen. Das Ergebnis erschien dann im November 2022,eben mit dem Titel “Ripples”, bei Discus Music auf CD. Glockige Vibraphonklänge bzw. mit diesem und einem Bogen erzeugtes Tonschweben treffen hier auf die perlenden Sounds eines Fender Rhodes E-Pianos. Gemächlich wogend bis jazzig groovend gleitet die Musik dahin, fließen die klanglichen Erzeugnisse der beiden Instrumente um- und ineinander, mal verträumt bis mysteriös hallend, mal entspannt plätschernd, mal aufgeregter tröpfelnd, mal bewegter tänzelnd und auch mal freiformatig rumorend. Dazu kommen viel Echo und Hall und eine glasklare und sehr ausgewogene Produktion. Das Ergebnis sind 12 erstaunlich farbige, elegante und intensive Tongemälde von beeindruckender Tiefe, die oft eine gewisse Canterbury-Atmosphäre verbreiten (dieser warm-perlende, jazzig-hallende E-Pianosound), eine Art Destillat oder Essenz des Canterbury-Sounds. Verhaltene jazzige Rhythmen sorgen für Dynamik und diverse Effektverfremdungen bzw. die Art und Weise wie das Vibraphon bedient wird (mitunter dreht Pyne offenbar auch die Schlägel um und bearbeitet sein Instrument wie ein Schlagzeug) für sich verändernde Klangfarben. So gelingt es dem Duo problemlos über eine Stunde lang die Spannung aufrecht zu erhalten. Weniger ist ja manchmal mehr. Dies trifft definitiv auf “Ripples” zu. Sparsam aber intensiv wird hier virtuos musiziert, erzeugen die beiden Musiker ein dichtes, vielschichtiges und abwechslungsreiches Gemenge an Tönen und Harmonien. Wer hallende E-Pianosounds, Canterburyverwandtes, dezente impressionistische Elektronikwolken und glockig-schwebende Metallophonklänge schätzt, oder sich vorstellen kann das zu tun, die/der sollte hier dringen einmal reinhören. – Achim Breiling, BABYBLAUE SEITEN http://www.babyblaue-seiten.de/album_20732.html#oben

Listening is lulled by the soft fluid interweaving of notes. And it’s not always easy to discern the contribution of Martin Pyne ‘s vibraphone from that of David Beebee ‘s Rhodes piano . The recipe is one of Discus’ favorite dishes: a skilful mix of fragments of composition and free improvisation; the genre is a modern jazz which, sometimes relying on some subtle compositions (such as the initial Making the Point by Pyne , the later, minimal, Wabi Sabi by Beebee), relies mostly on the imaginative imagination in the moment of the performance, to develop the sound idea at the base of the musical project: the ripple. It is the theme to vary incorporated in the liquid quality of the sparkling sound magma generated by the two keyboards. Pale northern autumnal dawns awakened by the placid waves on the white beach, slightly rippled by soft icy winds (biting, yet welcoming), evoke the sweet vibes that make up songs like Sordankyla , Peg Powler , Kingfischer Blue and Acheron (to mention only four of the twelve album tracks). The invitation to calm contemplation of the soundscape is the thing itself. – KATHODIK

Taking a cue from the subtle melodicism perfected by Chick Corea and Gary Burton on their series of duo discs are vibraphonist Martin Pyne and keyboardist David Beebee. But on Ripples (DISCUS 145 CD) the two up the ante on the disc’s dozen selections by using electric piano tones to blend with vibe sonorities. The resulting improvisations involve elastic note vibrations from the plugged-in keyboard alongside sustained aluminum bar resonations. Some tracks are balladic, taking full advantage of the ingenuity of the pianist, who also recorded the session, as he cushion the vibist’s languid, perfectly shaped single notes with tremolo comping. This is emphasized most clearly on the extended “Seeking Refuge”, where lyrical interludes from the vibist are backed with sympathetic piano chording. Modernity is emphasized as well since Pyne’s single notes ring as well as relate. The vibist’s ability to create perfectly rounded notes that can almost be visualized as teardrop shaped are then hardened into sustained accents when the two play staccato and presto. Glissandi created by mallet slides is sometimes as prominent as keyboard smears. The vibist’s sustain pedal pressure and firmer strokes also frequently confirm the instrument’s idiophone heritage with concise, powerful strokes. Still these instances as on “Night Music” and “Peg Prowler” are never completely percussive since the later includes stop-time interludes and the former a sand-dance-like solo from Pyne. With neither partner exclusively soloist or accompanist the intersectional connection is always maintained. The duo defines each sequence effectively and frequently leaves a timbral ripple in the air after the selection is completed. – Ken Waxman, JAZZ WORD https://www.jazzword.com/reviews/martin-pyne-david-beebee/

British vibraphonist Martin Pyne’s decision to pair with David Beebee’s electric piano engenders an unusual combination for the largely freely improvised Ripples. With its fusion associations, the sound of the Fender Rhodes seems slightly retro in this sort of setting. But equally unusual is the degree of overlap in the tonality; the keyboard could be the bottom end of a single instrument completed by the vibraphone. It is a dynamic which they explore across a dozen tracks on this studio date from Spring 2022, of which five tracks stem from the pens of the principals while the remaining seven are joint creations. With his dampened notes, ringing sustains and percussive textures, Pyne hews as much to the lineage of Walt Dickerson as to more mainstream players, although his lyrical sensibility tilts him away from the extremes. Beebee takes a largely supportive role, offering a loose counterpoint, holding down the lower register, sometimes even suggesting a bass marimba or steel pans. In the liner notes Pyne talks about the liquid quality of their interaction, hence the title; but they also generate a somewhat dreamy, otherworldly feel too, as if there are facets of their communication hidden from view. Maybe that is more prevalent in the improvs, which at times push the bounds of the constricted palette, although the impishly buoyant “Kawako,” the leaping zigzagging trajectories of “Dance Of The Damsel Flies” and the echoey rattling of “Night Music” undoubtedly buck that trend. Among the highlights are Pyne’s “Seeking Refuge,” in which he pitches the aching melody against a darker Rhodes undercurrent, his courtly “Sodankyla,” one of the most rhythmic cuts, and the waves of iridescence evoked by the joint “Kingfisher Blue.” Pyne’s understated but singular perspective on the vibes merits investigation. – John Sharpe, ALL ABOUT JAZZ https://www.allaboutjazz.com/ripples-martin-pyne-discus-music

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