Avant-garde music really finds its beauty in the way it rids musical expression of a number of conceptual restraints, leaving the core of the artist’s emotion to be exposed bare.
This kind of intimate connection with the listener is what drummer Billie Davies offers in her release Hand in Hand in the Hand of the Moon.
The album, a symphony in eight movements dedicated to Belgian painter Serge Vandercam, was recorded in one take, with each movement inspired by a different painting by Vandercam.
Davies invites musicians to converse freely around pieces of visual art created in a session she spent with Vandercam in 1995. That type of experimentation in music allows her to draw connections between different individuals and their ideas, through different art forms, and across different timeframes.
Though the instrumentation remains within the established norms of the jazz quintet, the absence of piano challenges the horns to build a melodic and rhythmic rapport among themselves and with Davies’ lead drumming, rather than relying on set harmonies or chord structure.
The bare and vivid expression that results from this combination of ideas—on how to create music—shows a certain degree of sincerity and openness that remains present throughout this concept album.