Saxophonist Elton Dean and pianist Sophia Domancich have played together on and off in the Soft Machine -- with Hugh Hopper and Simon Goubert -- and in various lineups of Pip Pyle's Equipe Out. Avant, recorded from a live performance in Gorzia in 2004, marks the first time they have played as a duo, however. Over four extended pieces, this pair delve deep into the notion of close listening. In "No Fuss," they engage in intricate contrapuntal improvisation where one phrase comes out of another, moving ever more deeply into the sonic labyrinth. On "No Bother," Domancich reaches as much inside the piano as on to its keys to provide open drones, elongated melody lines, and percussive bursts for Dean's saxophone to cascade around and through. On the opener, "Avant-Apres," the pair establish a language from skeletal compositional frames and use space, tension, and dynamic to create a passageway in this beautiful, lyrical, and provocative recording; one where intuition, skill, and near-symbiotic thought processes are given voice in front of a delighted live audience.
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AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek