Couple in Spirit II

Keith & Julie Tippett

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Couple in Spirit II Review

by Fran├žois Couture

When pianist Keith Tippett and his wife, singer Julie Tippett, went onstage together that night in 1996 in Cologne, it was their first show as a duo since their 25th wedding anniversary in November 1995. Throughout the years they shared the stage many times, but only issued one album, the 1975 LP Couple in Spirit. The long overdue Couple in Spirit II album deserved its title, even though "sequel albums" usually don't equal their predecessors. But this CD couldn't be more different than the first, something very understandable considering the evolution of these two fine improvisers during the last 25 years. While the first album contained short songs, Couple in Spirit II is comprised of a continuous 53-minute free improvisation ("Together"), completed by a short encore ("Rain-bow"). Keith Tippett pours all his art (and heart) into the piano, playing with sincerity. His usual blend of free approaches, occasional jazz progressions or rock frames, and fiddling inside the instrument is complemented by Julie Tippett's voice, one of the most beautiful and touching among female vocal improvisors. Her art doesn't reside in extended techniques, but rather in immediacy, delicacy, and haunting melodies. "Together" moves spontaneously from one section to the next as new ideas fuel its momentum. The piece remains mostly melodious, although always on the "demanding" end of the music spectrum. The short encore is an improvised mellow jazz ballad in the style of Cole Porter. Simply beautiful and a must for fans of either or both of these musicians.

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