The Buhr Quartet | Interplay
NQ Records 7 Tracks 42 minutes

Interplay, is aptly titled. The musicians, whom I’ll name in a bit, are all composers and improvisers, equally at home in 18th–century chamber music, modern jazz, or 60’s psychedelic. The set list includes tunes by Bill Evans (“Interplay”), Jimi Hendrix (“Manic Depression"), the torchy ballad “Never Let Me Go” (R.Evans/J.Livingstone), as well as originals by guitarist Greg Lowe, Richard Moody—the violist and hyperlistenable vocalist, and the leader, pianist Glenn Buhr (with Margaret Sweatman).

You’d want to hear the voices of piano and guitar playing in unison for short passages as they do in the closing restatement of the melody on the title track. You’d want to hear Richard Moody being himself but somehow sounding like Jimi singing “Manic Depression,” as his viola wails like a banshee through the pounding storm of piano, bass and guitar percussing in unison, then splitting off into their individual attacks, coordinated to create the musical equivalent of what must go on in the head during an episode of the manic phase of depression.

Greg Lowe’s “Rising Mind” is an elegant piece of writing with the depth of its feeling evoked by the voice of Gilles Fournier’s bass melody. Bowed or plucked, his tone is as colour-rich as the moaning of a human throat yearning to bring inarticulate passion to the level of language.

Richard Moody’s song “Where My Lover Goes” is as good as many a standard ballad. His voice is exceptionally pleasant, his diction and phrasing are sharply chiseled, and he keeps control from the deep and husky tones all the way up the to border of counter-tenor. The arrangement, as usual, is classy.

The melody and lyrics of the final tune, Bhur/Sweatman’s “and man will only grieve if he believes the sun stands still”, also sung by Richard Moody, has qualities of a hymn full of riddles from an earlier age of faith. It’s not totally distant from Blake’s “Jerusalem” in its beauty, grace and optimism.

This album, Interplay, is highly recommended for repeated listening.

Stanley Fefferman for The Live Music Report

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