Pat Battstone, The Last Taxi : In Transit Review
By: Griff Stevens
Pianist and composer Pat Battstone has certainly been on a prolific streak. His last six CDs: Mystic Nights (2011), The Last Taxi (2014), Beyond the Horizon (2015), From Dream to Dream (2016), Rylesonable (2017), and Elements (2017). Battstone’s latest endeavor The Last Taxi : In Transit is a collaboration with likeminded adventurists from Italy, Gianna Montecalvo and Antonella Chionna both known for their adventuresome avant-leaning performances. The ensemble is rounded out with Chris Rathbun: double bass; Richard Poole: drums, vibraphone; Ilona Kudina: flutes and Todd Brunel clarinet. When not performing music, Pat works as a rocket scientist at Draper Labs in Cambridge, MA.
Two highlight compositions on the album that stood out are “Creatures of the Night Forest.” It begins with all the sounds the title implies. Haunting sounds, rumbling percussion and eerie vocalizations from the two-female vocalist. It is beautiful how they work together. Rathbun’s bowing is very interesting. Montecalvo and Chionna work as one unit to interact and build various phrases. It might be phycological, but it seems as if the band follows their lead. Either way, it is amazing how this group of musicians listen to each other to create sounds and musical shapes that form larger phrases and musical statements. Poole’s vibraphone takes a nice musical phrase to Montecalvo’s and Chionna’s vocal climax. The clarinet and bowed bass perform a nice duet. There is so mush to digest and each listen reveals many layers, that is the beauty of The Last Taxi : In Transit, creating completely improvised music in the moment yields a sound that never could be written or pre-conceived, its pure improvisation.
The second highlight is “Adieu Mes Amis” that begins with a delightful flute solo from Kudina. The phrase is free flowing and establishes a tonal center. Soon Rathbun and Poole join. The harmonic center is maintained as the harmonic progression spontaneously flows. The vocalists and Battstone enter, still maintaining the harmonic integrity that has been established. Battstone and Kudina perform a wonderful solo duet with each other. Battstone then takes the lead, his solo piano continues the harmonic theme and melodies as he spins through an evoking harmonic exposition. Battstone’s maturity and touch on the piano is impressive. Poole answers with a vibraphone solo, still building the same harmonic string for the concluding sounds. Again, this group amazes with their ability to know when to play and when to just listen.
The Last Taxi : In Transit is about a journey, whether acroamatic or spiritually the results is the same, its about stepping forward into the unknown. Letting go of constraints and taking a journey among friends. The chemistry among these musicians is evident on many levels. Their ability to communicate freely within a loosened structure allows each musician to elevate their vibrational current and reach beyond the envelope into a deepened feeling of perspective. Together and collectively the result is stunning. Certainly, we hope this is not the last taxi, only a moment along the journey to come.
Release Date: July 12, 2018
Label: Leo Records