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Music Review: The Clouds Above – Soren Moller and Dick Oatts

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It quickly becomes evident that Soren Moller and Dick Oatts collaborate impeccably. The Clouds Above is their second collaboration (the first being Storytelling) and it is a pristine construction of focused improvisation, with Moller's piano providing the framework for Oatts' saxophone.

When I first read that there were just the two instruments involved I must admit I did not expect the sound to be as complete as it is. I really enjoyed the interplay of sax and piano. There was seemingly no effort for these two to play together, it was totally natural. The classical/jazz sound showcased here has an intimate sound that just feels right, like a conversation with a long absent friend.

Moller writes that he wanted to compose "music that has a lyrical touch" and so the CD begins with his take on Sergei Prokofiev's Balcony Scene from Prokofiev's ballet based on Romeo and Juliet. Moller doesn't want to be trapped into a specific genre – he prefers calling his work Creative Music. According to the Romeo and Juliet notes I've been reading, the two Shakespearean lovers didn't want to be defined, either, just because of their family names.

I have no idea if that is anything either musician had in mind here, but it's what came into mine. Of course, there's also the light and dark themes in Romeo and Juliet and the obvious allusions to a duet. More than likely, they just appreciated Prokofiev's lyrical ballet.

The rest of the songs are original compositions from Moller and Oatts. Moller wrote then as he was traveling back and forth between Denmark and New York to collaborate with Oatts. He was inspired, he says, by his view of soaring above the clouds during his flight.

After reading that, I listened carefully to The Clouds Above again. Once I was consciously seeking the feeling of flight in the music I could definitely find it. The feeling of being alone in the expanse above the clouds is woven into the music. It's especially evident on the compositions "The Clouds Above" and "Wide Open Spaces." Go figure.

The energy of collaboration is there, too. Very easily I could imagine these two men either on stage or in the studio, blocking out everything else and focusing on music, both having looked forward to the time they could spend writing, composing, performing.

Because of that, you'll look forward to listening again and again.

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