Neptune is the second collaboration of free jazz piano and drums by classical pianist Carol Lian and jazz drummer Ronnie Bedford. The first undertaking was released as Moments: Solo and Duo Improvisations in 1990. Like the first endeavor, the music here is the improvisational product from the inventive minds of two extraordinarily creative talents who are willing to take the risks necessary to bring to public attention rarely conceived and performed jazz forms. Unlike the first album, the two artists express their ideas in what are listed as three separate pieces, but each could really be considered as a movement in a sonata for piano and drums. It took these two 14 tracks to get it all out on their initial CD. The music is spontaneous; nothing is written down. And while freed from the written note, it does not necessarily follow that all is completely unstructured and anarchistic. Close listening will reveal patterns that emanate from the synergy that exists between these the two protagonists. Heed, for example, the opening section of "Neptune," where Bedford's drums seem to logically feed off the pianist exploitations of Lian. The music also runs the gamut of emotion, from light and lilting to the determined and intense. At times the performance is like a good mystery novel. The plot unfolds, taking unexpected twists and turns, but there is confidence that the eventual denouement will make sense and follow from the story, as it all ends in a 28-plus-minute respite, "In Paradise." Like the first album, the music is challenging to both performers and listeners. But once again the aesthetic rewards are great. Recommended for those with daring and adventure in their jazz heart and soul.
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AllMusic Review by Dave Nathan