Josephine Davies’ Satori

In The Corners Of Clouds
(Whirlwind)

This is saxophonist Josephine Davies’ second outing with her piano-less trio Satori, and it’s impressive to note how much the group has grown since its eponymous 2017 debut. Although the basic sound remains the same—densely rhythmic, with a sturdy sense of melody and deeply intertwined lines among saxophone, bass and drums—the execution has evolved into something more in the moment, sparking more often from improvisational interplay than compositional forethought.

Some of this might have to do with the difference in drummers. Whereas Paul Clarvis, on the first album, was assertively propulsive in the classic Elvin Jones fashion, James Maddren’s gracefully polyrhythmic playing seems somehow more intermingled with the others’ voices, underscoring the pulse without taking sole possession. That’s a crucial difference, because even though many of the tunes here are anchored to a central rhythmic pattern beneath Davies’ mournfully lyric themes, the real magic happens when that pattern goes from stated to implied, and each of the three work their own elaborations on it.

Some listeners might miss the bluesy tartness of Davies’ soprano, but her fondness for breathy, arpeggiated asides—a nice way for the saxophone to take on more of a rhythmic role—is better suited to the tenor, and we do get the bonus of overdubbed harmony on “Lazy.” Meanwhile, bassist Dave Whitford continues to amaze, offering assertive, rhythmically agile counterpoint that manages to deliver virtuosic intensity without ever distracting from what his bandmates are up to. Definitely a band to watch.



On Sale Now
February 2020
Nicholas Payton
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