“TranceFormation in Concert” was named a Downbeat Critics Poll Best Vocal CD selection (Alain Drouot, Downbeat, WNUR-FM, 2012)


TranceFormation - In Concert
New Artists Records (2012)



By Marc Medwin

50 years after it became a topic of public interest and controversy, many still have the wrong idea about freedom in improvised music. In one of those “What is the Beat Generation” lectures of the late ‘50s, Jack Kerouac exclaimed, “Responsibility? Who wouldn’t help a dying man on an empty road!” His comment addresses a fundamental characteristic of human interaction and, consequently, musical interaction when two or more improvisers assemble. They share the responsibility either to communicate with each other or not, but the decision is integral to their freedom. TranceFormation’s debut shows that when such considerations are taken seriously, the resulting music can be miraculous. The disc’s opening phrases give the game away. Bassist Ken Filiano begins a line and pianist Connie Crothers continues it, both acting with the absolutely natural simplicity of a conversation. This happens repeatedly as the music proceeds; there’s a remarkable moment in “Whale Song” where Filiano hints at a pulse, Crothers offers a bluesy retort and the two lock into a groove that broadens and pervades the texture. Hearing the pitch complexes on offer, vocalist Andrea Wolper circles the pattern, ultimately adopting and flavoring it with swells and sudden full-voice bursts. These switches from parallel to serial listening are delightfully unpredictable and satisfying on many levels, speaking to deep listening and collaboration. Crothers and Filiano have fostered a well-documented musical relationship in her quartet, but these performances mark the first time that Wolper has recorded with them. The timbre of her voice conjures uncanny shades of Jeanne Lee and Grace Slick, drawing on rhetoric that juxtaposes ‘soul’ slides and operatic bloom with easy skill. Her collaborators demonstrate similar diversity, jumping into tradition with acrobatic dexterity and casting it aside with the muscular certainty only experience affords. Ben Manley’s recording is gorgeous as usual and it captures each detail of the multivalent interaction that inhabits every moment of this group’s excellent first offering. May there be many more!


The New York City Jazz Record
November 2012


TranceFormation - IN CONCERT

> TranceFormation, IN CONCERT
Marc Medwin, The New York City Jazz Record
November 2012

TranceFormation, IN CONCERT
Bruce Crowther, JazzMostly.com
August 2012

TranceFormation, IN CONCERT
Jason Bivins, Cadence Magazine
April 2013

back to main review page