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George Burt / Cliona CassidySelf-Released
Released: 27th November 2020
|CD||£7.99||Buy Now||In Stock. Dispatched on Monday.|
George Burt (guitar) and Clíona Cassidy (voice) are a new partnership exploring the territory between songwriting, improvisation and performance. Rain Shadow, a post-lockdown collection of songs and duos, is their first album, made after a series of performances at Jazz NorthEast, GIOFest, and the Bitches Brew concert series promoting female-led groups and ensembles.
For anyone with a passing knowledge of the storied Glasgow improvised music scene, the prospect of a George Burt release promises playfulness, virtuoso guitar playing with a pointilist joie de vivre. This new partnership with Cliona Cassidy, then, is a big curve ball. Cassidy is a fellow member of the Glasgow Improvisors Orchestra, a long-running group of disparate musicians improvising with guests but her work here with Burt is spell binding, layered, even downright mystical in points. Not mystical in a kind of flowing garment, misty-eyed way, but in a materialistically astonishing way: her vocal performances are perfect, recorded truthfully with no augmentation, her voice perhaps classically trained and duetting just beautifully with the guitar players mix of jazz-inflected chords and improvising. There's some layering of the vocals but mostly this is the two of them in a room, listening, musically chatting.
The intimacy in evidence is something palpable, gorgeous. It promises a connection of sorts, with a track like Who Has Seen The Wind emanating out as if from a basement jazz club before completely collapsing into play. The improvising practice Burt has honed always has the promise of the jester, even in his most beautiful, straight playing he has a complete disregard for convention that is just a joy to listen to. It's an element that threatens to derail some of the most stunning folk of the record, like the Vashti Bunyan-esque The Lighthouse and that's the strength of this recording. These aren't reverent recordings of tradition, Rain Shadow is two musicians so completely at home with their craft they can bend and stretch the rules of song into new shapes, new tonalities and, at times, a stunningly still, special pathos that we're finding it hard to compare to anything else.