This unusual release features 11 disparate renderings of "Embryonic Journey," recorded by Tom Constanten (piano/voice) and the song's author, Jorma Kaukonen (guitar/voice). The contents are certainly a fitting testimonial to both the music and musicians, as the former Grateful Dead keyboard player and Jefferson Airplane lead stringman present real-time revisitations of one of the landmark sonic statements born of the late-'60s Bay Area music scene. Their collaboration occurred while Constanten was compiling his Morning Dew (1993) solo disc. After nine tries they struck upon "The Perfect Embryonic Journey" which was included on the album. However, as this roughly half-hour work-in-progress proves, much of the magic heard in that final performance actually materializes as soon as they begin. The sessions commence with Kaukonen running through a fairly standard reading by himself, after which Constanten incorporates very distinct complementary chord changes. The composition's beauty as well as its inherent complexities collectively unravel as the instrumentalists find their respective space within the compact melody. Kaukonen's Gibson acoustic guitar chimes around Constanten's organic ripples and flourishes as they craft and refine their superlative statement. What started as a somewhat tentative association quickly solidifies into improvisations rooted in their abilities to react and adapt as the definitive take flows organically, as if each instrument is an extension of the other. Perhaps in the ultimate irony, they conclude with a version that is nearly 180 degrees from where they began, as Constanten develops the melody and Kaukonen provides most of the atmospheric details. Embryonic Journey (1995) was issued in an edition of 5,000 copies which were signed by the artists.
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AllMusic Review by Lindsay Planer