Near the end of the eighteenth century, the German theorist Friedrich Schlegel proposed the fragment as an emergent refashioning of the form of criticism. Inherent to the short form of the fragment was a questioning of wholeness: for Schlegel, the fragment was not a recovered piece of some lost whole, but rather a sort of romantic experiment in delimiting ideas of wholeness altogether. One fragment, for example, proposes that “every whole can be a part and every part really a whole”—an idea as beguiling as it is attractive.
I hear a similar fascination with the fragment on the debut recording by Kind Mind, a collaboration between Toronto jazz bulwarks Josh Cole (bass, compositions), Karen Ng (alto saxophone), and Michael Davidson (vibraphone). Their self-titled album preserves three improvised compositions from a performance at the Open Waters Festival in Halifax in the dawning days of 2020. Each track stretches across several minutes, but the experience they create is one of a fractured, or fragmented, forum of ideas—motifs come and go, each with their own sense of internal coherence. “Inside Voices” moves from hushed to emphatic, with Ng’s gentle playing and Cole’s exploratory plucks rooted by the luxurious ring of Davidson’s mallets. Later, “Outside Voices” feels like a sonic photonegative. Its sounds seem to recall earlier moments on the record, but their timbral hue is upended, uncanny. Every so often, the trio finds union in a shared melody or brief glimpses of consonance. But these moments are fleeting, and the ensemble’s search is ongoing—they keep turning over stones, exposing wriggling bits of life.