Neil Metcalfe flute; John Rangecroft clarinet. Recorded 1999. SLAMCD 237
Bar code 5 028386 023722
TRACKS: 29 Untitled improvisations.
Total playing time 45 minutes, 13 seconds.
Cadence, March 2001 Supremely or perhaps only sterotypically British, Twogether is a highly restrained conversation between two old friends. Both Neil Metcalfe and John Rangecroft are lesser-known survivors of the English free music scene, each having performed with John Stevens and the Spontaneous Music Ensemble, and each now part of the London Improvisers' Orchestra. This set of twenty-nine totally improvised interactions presents these two talented musicians in a comfortable - perhaps too comfortable - environment in which they interlock horns gently in what might be described as free chamber music. The liners cite influences from Bird to Stravinsky and Elliott Carter, and they are all there. Ranging from twenty seconds to more than three minutes, the more than two dozen vignettes are rarely fully realized; instead, they are scenes or miniatures that in their entirety form a larger picture. Clarinet and flute can be a less than incendiary combination, and there are times when even the short recording time seems too long. The listener sometimes feels like an observer, even a distant one, but not a participant. There is a beauty to much of it, though, where flute and clarinet lovingly intertwine to meld and even go separate ways. While the melting of genre lines is by now old hat, Twogether goes a step fruther than some other recordings, focusing on disciplined free improvisation that is just as secure in a classical music framework as in a jazz one. Subtlety and taste are critical, while grandstanding and emotional demagoguery are nowhere to be found. The results are often appealing, but in ways not immediately apparent. Stevn Loewy