Queen Mab

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By the end of the 20th century it was still unusual for two women to be leading a jazz group, even more so to be leading a unit performing in the style of the so-called avant-garde. Queen Mab is a duo comprised of pianist Marilyn Lerner and clarinetist Lori Freedman, who are joined on this recording by five separate guest artists on different tracks. Not surprisingly, perhaps, the most interesting and polished cuts are those in which the duo stands alone, though there are many moments throughout that rise to distinguished heights. Both are accomplished freestyle performers, who avoid clich├ęs and immerse themselves in the moment. They bring superb technique to their craft, and listen closely to each other. Freedman, in particular, is at the top of her field, with strikingly successful solo forays. The advantage of adding the guest musicians is, at least in theory, the increased spontaneity and surprise, though as is often the case, the results are not necessarily uniform. Still, there is enough outstanding music to be found here to make this a fascinating and worthwhile purchase.

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