Alberta-born, New York-based guitarist Jessica Ackerley combines elements rarely heard together, compounding them into an improvisatory language that includes American primitive (the school of John Fahey and Robbie Basho that stretches from folk idioms to ragtime and raga) and the clear, rapid articulation of the modern jazz that she studied with the late master Vic Juris. On this album, Ackerley improvises a series of acoustic duets with Daniel Carter, a veteran multi-instrumentalist whose recent work includes the brilliant Seraphic Light (AUM) with fellow masters William Parker and Matthew Shipp. Carter’s musical identity is so strong that his clarinet, soprano saxophone, and even flute sound as much like different inflections as different instruments.
A lyrical predilection defines their meeting, but the two musicians also cross boundaries; form and tradition always nearby but mutating with melodic impulse. The opening track, “Welcome, Our Friends,” suggests modality but stretches it with contrary note choices, creating an unusual weave of consonance and dissonance within a mood that is all warmth, effectively suspending the notion of dissonance itself. “Convergence” has similar moments, but it’s increasingly dream-like, while “Lucid Dreamer” presses the unconscious symmetry further, with precise rhythmic unisons between the guitar’s rapid, jazz-style single-note runs and the flute. The sound of Ackerley’s fingers becomes another trailing voice, an echo of the physical world.
The music ultimately lives by its empathy, its shifting concordances and roles suggesting a single voice divided naturally among partners: the parts are so close that the two might be reading an invisible score.