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The Voyage

Thomas Clausen (piano)

Francesco Cali (accordion)

Stunt Records STUCD 16032





1. Prologue: Old Portraits

2. Morning

3. Alone

4. Clouds

5. People

6. Ordeal

7. Street Life No. 1

8. The Room

9. The Family

10. Morning in the City

11. Tough Tale

12. Street Life No. 2

13. Horror Story

14. New Friends

15. The Morning After

16. Get a Job!

17. Factory Life

18. Battlefield

19. End of the Day

20. Reunion

21. Bliss

22. Epilogue

Thomas Clausen (piano)

Francesco Cali (accordion)

Danish pianist Thomas Clausen has appeared before on the Stunt label with a quartet playing numbers by Horace Parlan, but this particular collaboration with accordionist Francesco Cali can hardly be called a jazz album at all. This is Clausen's music for a play called "The Arrival" first performed in 2015. The play is based on a graphic novel by Shaun Tan, and the music is written to accompany each picture from the book as shown in the same way as a silent movie. The music is therefore illustrative, and Clausen has taken seriously the tradition of narrative vignettes that form a tale, often giving them a poignancy and melancholic atmosphere, but introducing the necessary energy into some scenes such as Street Life No. 2. Factory Life has a nice little feature that uses the accordion like a whistle, and heavy tread of The Soldier's Tale is a little like a splinter from Kurt Weill's workbench - there is certainly no shortage of ideas.

There might be a temptation to add a touch of melodrama, and titles such as Horror Story suggest the potential for stereotype. This turns into more of a chase however, and there is no resort to tremulous or screechy special effects. Busy tracks such as People leave less to the imagination, but are never less than highly evocative and effective. Musical themes tend not to be repeated overtly or treated much to variation form, though there is a consistency of style that makes this into a nicely coherent whole. Certain accompaniment figures such as the after-the-beat repeated chords that indicate activity, and a recurring whole-tone modality help in this regard. The accordion would seem to make Tango associations a shoe-in, but these are few and far between. Only Reunion goes full-on in that regard, doing the ghost of Piazzolla proud. There are however no really memorable 'big tunes' which you will find yourself whistling for days afterwards.

There is a slight sameness to the combination of piano and accordion that might put you off, though the sheer musicianship and creativity on show here keeps the ball rolling along and interest afloat. As I say, this is by no means a typical jazz album, being more in a long tradition of poetic music for artistic animated films. As such it is very high quality indeed, and deserves a wide audience. A DVD including the images for which the music was written would however be a more ideal package.

Dominy Clements

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