Album of the Day: Alcorn / McPhee / Vandermark, “Invitation To A Dream”

Invitation To A Dream is the debut album from the jazz trio consisting of Susan Alcorn, Ken Vandermark, and Joe McPhee. Moving between soft and loud, ferocious bursts of sound, it plays like a deep conversation held by three world-class improvisors. The album’s opener, “Invitation To A Dream,” is led by Alcorn’s drifting and winding guitar; it’s tense and haunting until it arrives at the midway point, where the trio explode into a ringing cacophony of fiery sound. “I Am Because You Are” opens with a similar tone, but the aggression builds quickly; the song’s tension and volume briefly rise, and then the ensemble settles back into an outro section of delicate interplay. A sharp, playful solo from McPhee, undergirded by Alcorn’s swinging, ascending lines, bursts from the center of “Rise And Rise.” Nearly a third of the way through, the track turns on its heels, giving way a sound filled with a deep sense of dread and menace. 

The product of three seasoned musicians with decades of experience between them, Invitation To A Dream deftly moves between soft minimalism and aggressive, fiery bombast. Each track is a showcase for their collective mastery of dynamics, experimentation, and emotional tone. McPhee, Alcorn, and Vandermark have succeeded in creating an impressive collection of modern improvisational music.

-John Morrison

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