|Cellist Peggy Lee and drummer/percussionist Dylan van der Schyff are two Canadian musicians whose work is reasonably familiar to this writer, from the mostly composed territories of the Peggy Lee Band to those situations when improvisation prevails - check Floating 1...2...3 (2002), the live album recorded by Lee and van der Schyff alongside saxophonist/clarinet player Michael Moore. Not so familiar to me are the CVs of guitarist Ron Samworth and trumpet player Bill Clark. Reading the liner notes to Intersection Poems I learnt that in 1992 the four musicians formed a group called Talking Pictures, a line-up that considered the (so-called) Downtown Scene of New York as one of their most important influences. Recorded live on March 28, 2003, this CD presents a live meeting of the four musicians and Wayne Horvitz, one of the main figures of the aforementioned "scene".
So we have an improvised performance. But here we have to consider the term "improvisation" as being equal to "creating something from nothing", not as something where atonal particles prevail. The performance was edited by Dylan van der Schyff, so I don't know how much of the form that we can find here is due to his work. But I'd say that Peggy Lee on cello seems to favour melodic developments anyway. While Horvitz, here heard only on piano, appears to be partial to an approach that's consciously constructivist - check the arpeggios that open merge a la gauche and ...when amber flashing; the way his piano gives the cello a context in Intersection Poems; the propulsion that the prepared piano gives the whole group in Elk Crossing. The fine colours of van der Schyff's drums are nicely highlighted by the clear recording. Ron Samworth's work on guitar is versatile, sometimes timbrally exciting. I didn't find Bill Clark's performance to be always convincing; sometimes he reminded me of Leo Smith. As usual, Peggy Lee's cello is a good instrumental voice.
Intersection Poems is an album that won't change the history of music but that nonetheless offers a lot of good music. At 40', it offers perfect length, too. Highly recommended to those who like music that sounds "composed, but with an edge".