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Mark Wingfield / Jane Chapman / Adriano Adewale — Zoji
(Moonjune MJR110, 2020, CD / DL)

by Jon Davis, Published 2021-01-01

Zoji Cover art

Guitarist Mark Wingfield has been showing up in a lot of different types of ensemble lately, from his duos and quartet groups with Markus Reuter to a duets with Gary Husband and Kevin Kastning to his own solo and sessions as leader. The album at hand sees him collaborating with harpsichordist Jane Chapman and percussionist Adriano Adewale for one of the most interesting sonic experiences you’re likely to come across. Wingfield’s guitar work is by now becoming a known quantity, with his unique tone and way of manipulating tone and pitch, and on Zoji there will be no surprises in that respect — not that his playing isn’t stellar and creative, just that it’s what we’ve come to expect from him. The real surprise here is Jane Chapman’s harpsichord. She’s taken an instrument associated not just with Classical music, but Classical music of the Baroque and Renaissance eras, and applies modern improvisational sensibilities to it. Once the piano came to prominence in the 1700s, the harpsichord began to fall out of favor due to the newer instrument’s dynamic range and expressive subtlety, nearly disappearing from new repertory by the late 19th Century. Players like Chapman have helped usher in a new era of relevance for the instrument, and Zoji is a fascinating example. The delicate, bright sounds are a brilliant complement to Wingfield’s legato and sustain, providing an appealing variety of textures which is amplified even further by Adewale’s percussion. Rather than keeping time, Adewale is mostly in free-flowing mode, punctuating phrases and providing atmosphere on a wide variety of hand drums as well as wooden, metallic, and other kinds of objects. On the occasions where he does keep time, his choices avoid traditional patterns, using his instruments in unconventional ways. Zoji is far and away one of the most original recordings I’ve heard in 2020, and an entertaining listen as well.

Filed under: New releases, 2020 releases

Related artist(s): Mark Wingfield, Jane Chapman, Adriano Adewale

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Listen & discover

Premier of New Echo Us Video

From the press release:

To Wake a Dream in Moving Water takes from Echo Us' past and spins it into a whole new direction, one closer to traditional acoustic Celtic music than ever before.

To Wake a Dream in Moving Water was composed and recorded during the first few months of 2017. Although Celtic influenced and comprised of a number of re-workings of Irish folk tunes and Breton aires, the album is still in large part new and original Echo Us music that fits right in the Echo Us ‘canon’. “Wake” is a natural progression from “A Priori Memoriae”, which was released to critical acclaim in Europe in 2014.

To Wake a Dream in Moving Water is Echo Us’ ‘Celtic’ album that was planned for a long time but never executed because of the work on the trilogy that came before it. The album title is a typical ‘Echo Us’ play on words which one can find their own meaning.

“It is also both evocative of the Oregon rain, which I am told is not too unlike the rain in Ireland.”(Matthews)

To Wake a Dream in Moving Water is also a comment on conception- which was unintentional when the lyric was written. Matthews surprised himself a few months after writing it, realizing that the song was actually about the nitty gritty, biological workings of what happens when a child is conceived. The folk song it derives from musically describes a courting ritual, one that even today we can all relate to in our own way.

“Come With Me Over the Mountain" in acapella was the musical inspiration for the song, and came into my consciousness after the lyrics were written a few months prior. “ (Matthews)

As with all Echo Us recordings, a number of seeming coincidences resulted in connections being drawn where prior there were none. Another experience of similar capacity was found in oboe samples from A Priori Memoriae that echoed the traditional “May Morning Dew’, also reworked for guitar on the new album.

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