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KAY GRANT voice (& electronics on 5 - 7)
ALEX WARD clarinet

6 - YOU DON'T SAY - 5:43
7 - THIN ICE - 2:50
8 - TALE OF TWO HEADS - 4:25
9 - ABSOLUTELY (NOT) - 4:32

Digital concert (& studio *) recordings made in London:
1 - 4 Mopomoso @ Vortex by Martin Davidson - 2010 June 20
5 Klinker @ Salisbury Hotel by Kay Grant - 2008 February 15
6 - 7 Boat-ting @ The Yacht Club by Kay Grant - 2008 December 15
8 Boat-ting @ Bar & Co by Kay Grant - 2009 June 15
9 - 10 * by Alex Ward - 2011 April 20
Total time 51:44

All previously unissued


Excerpts from sleeve notes:

The English weather flickers across the garden, like a speeded up film. Inside, in high ceilinged rooms, in a big house coming alive, a clarinet and voice, two air columns flavoured with memories and lung, converse. The clarinet has just come back from New York. The voice has been distilling red petals for their essence. They have a lot to say to each other but the dangerous love they share for the liberation of animals breaks through. Out of the bag the creatures jabber excitedly, as they play across the bare wooden floor and Persian rugs.
Zolan Quobble (2011)


Excerpts from reviews:

"FAST TALK is subtitled 'being a collection of live musical conversations recorded on several auspicious occasions'. While there is a flippant tone to that subtitle, it emphasises two important points about these duos - they are live and they are 'conversations'. Well, they are probably most like the conversations of a long-married couple who both talk at once, finishing each other's sentences and occasionally contradicting or explaining what the other one meant. FAST TALK in fact, rather than a leisurely dialogue.

The album amply displays Ward's talents as an improviser, with Grant being an ideal partner. As the dates of the recorded gigs indicate, the two have plenty of experience together and so know each other well. Both are inclined to improvise melodies and are adept at doing so. Grant's wordless vocals complement Ward's clarinet well, with the two shadowing one another. They frequently occupy similar parts of the frequency spectrum as they rapidly respond to each other's tones and rhythms, sometimes overlapping or momentarily coinciding so their two separate voices become as one.

On three tracks Grant employs electronics to process her voice, sometimes moving it away from the range of the clarinet. Even as two very distinct voices, clarinet and vocals still intertwine, circling and mirroring each other to stunning effect."


"It is not often that the human voice is pitted against another human voice expressed through the vibrations of a moist and well-shaven reed of any instrument that has one, let alone a clarinet, which is made of seasoned wood and has the ability of being made to cry and wail just as naturally as another human voice. Yet this is exactly what can be experienced on the extraordinary FAST TALK, featuring vocalist extraordinaire Kay Grant and clarinetist Alex Ward. There is something ethereal and beautiful about listening to the vocal gymnastics of Grant's voice as she cuts loose; as if leaping off a proverbial cliff, she allows her voice to be led where the heart desires. That heart is both magician and mathematician. And this is a realm where Grant comes into her own. She jumps and soars, as if ascending asymmetrical stairs. In these astounding elevations she reaches improbable heights in register, colouring each successive leap with dramatically changing hue. She might then tumble in impossible parabolas that suddenly flatten, then ripple as the ululations rise from the straight lines she seems to ruffle with deliberate mischief and remarkable wit.

Knowing that she is never alone feeds Grant's creativity as she bounces her dramatic inventions, which play beautifully against the woody voice of Alex Ward's clarinet. Ever the cognoscenti of improvised music, Grant and Ward turn tonality on its head when it suits them and likewise with atonality. In this regard, Ward seems to be one with the wood and lacquer of his instrument. At the hands of the clarinettist all barriers between register dissolve to reveal one wide and colourful palette into which Ward swoops in and out. He wields his instrument like a sonic brush as he begins to paint a lively canvas with magnificent colours that melt into one another as they reveal their bountiful connection with nature. Playing with colour and tone in masterly fashion, Ward is a perfect foil to the human voice that screams and warbles musically ahead and behind him.

Most of the music on this programme is highly impressionistic. However, in the cut and thrust of the charts there is a distinctly defined narrative string that emerges. There is nothing linear about this and, like something out of Edward Lear, the music/narrative brakes and starts again, explodes into fluffy clouds, winds down into the depths of gutbucket blues, always emerging with spectacular wit and the choicest of musical wisdom. Both musicians explore irony by twisting form into impossible musical shapes. Ward leaps from one note to the other, but soon realizes that Grant's voice is more elastic in where it can go once stretched and he withdraws instantly to wail and wallow in his woody domain. The heart-stopping drama of the music continues throughout the music creation, at the end of it all a singularly memorable document that glorifies not only human voice, but the voice of two musicians who break anchor and fly."


"If you don't know who Ward or Grant are you'll be in for a real surprise (and a good one) as this is not only creative improvisation, but also great fun to listen to. The voice of Kay Grant and clarinet of Alex Ward run playful circles around each other's ideas constantly inspiring the other to new heights. In fact it can't get much more fun than this, the two instruments of voice and clarinet match each other perfectly and one hears how when one person moves towards an idea the other follows within a matter of milliseconds either copying or complimenting. In fact they should (could) have called the record 'twins' or even 'old couple', as they seem to think alike, anticipating or finishing each others ideas and thoughts - uncanny!

Each track is full of ideas such as trills, shrieks, flutter tonguing, laughing, crying, not to mention the pure melodic content ... singing and playing. Yes, it's all here you just have to hit play and sit back and enjoy. As for the tracks where there's a use of (very simple) effects - one should not think of laptop manipulations - it's really just small flourishes which (if you're not careful) fly past you before you realize. These tracks come across well, but are certainly not essential, neither adding (nor subtracting) anything to the music. However, it seems obvious that there's plenty of room for another record which maybe investigates this area in greater depth.

Very nice record, certainly for all fans of pure improvisation."



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