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Stephan Crump & Mary Halvorson: Secret Keeper: Emerge

From the moment Stephan Crump and Mary Halvorson played together they felt a musical rapport. The set of improvisation on 2013’s Super 8 bore this out by including music the bassist and guitarist recorded during their initial encounter at Crump’s home studio. With Emerge they take the next logical step. Both brought compositions to the session, all of them written with this duo setting in mind. The results give more grounding to the music without sacrificing the idiosyncrasies of their playing.

Before going into new work, however, Emerge begins with a non-original that sets the tone: Irving Berlin’s “What’ll I Do.” Played out of tempo, it retains its melodic sparkle even as Halvorson electronically warps the tune and Crump dexterously moves between double-stops and bowed lines. Time moves slowly in pieces like Halvorson’s “Disproportionate Endings,” with its long arco bass drones and fleeting guitar phrases. In contrast, Crump’s “Emerge” begins deliberately, but its two-chord foundation establishes a melancholy beauty evocative of a folk melody.

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