Kathryn Ladano studied with Montreal free-improv VIP Lori Freedman, is based in Kitchener, Ontario, and focuses her practice on improvisation. She explores the multiple identities of the bass clarinet on her latest album Masked, which is framed by the idea of how an instrument serves as a mask to facilitate deeper expression of the self. Does the mask allow for greater creative expression? Can it be used to transform or transcend, or perhaps to deceive? The title track was improvised while Ladano was wearing a mask, and its lines draw a low, oscillating tremolo that pushes forward and upward, gradually evolving in more and more rhythmically complex, thorny ornamentations. “Exhale,” created by using only breath sounds (modified from an exercise Ladano uses with her students to improvise using only the voice), sounds almost like an acousmatic work as the granular breath fragments layer and fishtail unpredictably, acutely controlled but evolving in intensity throughout the short work. In “Blind,” created while Ladano wore a blindfold, a gritty multiphonic tremolo melody is constructed and seesaws in a power struggle between tone and noise as each tries to predominate. With the sonorous melodic lines of “Wings,” the fitful runs of “Contentious,” and the contoured slap-tongue bass lines of “Groove,” Masked is almost like a love letter to the bass clarinet, employing all its attributes in devoted detail.