Raymond Boni

Voices & Dreams

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Saxophonist Joe McPhee's composition "Voices" predates his friendship with French guitarist Raymond Boni. It was written in 1975 as a sax/synthesizer duet for himself and John Snyder. His first encounter with Boni occurred shortly thereafter and the two have been playing together ever since, the guitarist appearing on many of the saxophonist's records (starting with the 1979 Old Eyes) and the piece becoming a regular feature in their duo concerts. Yet, their first album as a duet came out 25 years later. Voices & Dreams was culled from three live shows they performed in May 2000 in Lyon and Marseille (France). Odd tracks present four renditions of "Voices," all very different; even tracks are free improvisations titled "Dream." Boni plays an electric guitar throughout. He doesn't use distortion, but various echo/reverb effects. McPhee's lyrical saxophone motif acts like a leitmotiv, bringing the listener back to earth between improvisations. At first one could think it gets tiresome, but the theme is so delicate and strikingly tonal, it cuts through every time, making the surrounding music feel even more avant-gardist -- it gets anchored into different here-and-now contexts and consequently sounds fresh every time. Boni is comfortable in his role of textures provider. His solo spot in the first half of "Voices II" is exemplary of restraint and feather touch. McPhee constantly keeps in touch with the guitarist's mood swings, testifying to their long-lasting understanding. Recommended, especially to those who prefer their free jazz tempered.

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