Gorgeous, yet frightening at the same time...that's the best way that I can describe Tor & Vale, the brand new MoonJune Records release from the duo of guitarist Mark Wingfield and pianist Gary Husband. Neither musician should be a stranger to the jazz/fusion/avant-garde scenes, Husband of course also an acclaimed drummer, has either played drums or keyboards for such luminaries as Allan Holdsworth, John McLaughlin, Billy Cobham, Level 42, Jack Bruce, Robin Trower, Gary Moore, Beledo, Dewa Budjana, and many others, while Wingfield has been very active in recent years, especially with MoonJune, releasing his own albums as well as with Yaron Stavi, Asaf Sirkis, Kevin Kastning, and Markus Reuter. Tor & Vale features a selection of Wingfield originals plus some extended improvisations.
I'm going to first point out the massive 16+ minute title track, which is one of those improvisations, and it's easily the most thrilling piece of music here. Husband hammering out some dissonant chords on the piano while Wingfield's fingers run up and down the fretboard, firing out volleys of white hot screaming guitar noise, at times the pianist saddling up right next to him with some majestic flights of fancy as the duo take their explorations to universes unknown. Brilliant stuff. "Shape of Light" also reaches into the stratosphere, yearning sounds emanating from Wingfield's guitar with Husband gently tinkering the keys, while the bubbling, boiling "Tryfan" sees the guitarist channeling his inner Terje Rypdal, David Torn, Robert Fripp, and Bill Frisell with a wealth of warbling six string pyrotechnics. Of the more structured pieces, "Vaquita" is a lovely little jazz ditty, Husband's piano melodies sublime, and "The Golden Thread" flows nicely, hook laden piano simmering underneath some tasty lead guitar mania courtesy of Wingfield.
To be honest, not a weak track to be found here, and I found the booklet essay statement "what if Terje Rypdal recorded a duet album with Keith Jarrett" to be right on point. If all this sounds like a release worth investigating, and I'll state that it most certainly is, order up a copy of this delightful album immediately...you won't be disappointed. Ominous, yet oh so beautiful.
The Golden Thread 08:18
Night Song 05:48
Tor & Vale 16:27
Shape Of Light 10:41
Silver Sky 11:59