It’s been four years since I first listened to Mark Wingfield’s music after hearing to Proof of Light on the MoonJune label. He has worked with some of the most incredible musicians that’s he got to work with; Markus Reuter, Yaron Stavi, Asaf Sirkis, and one of my favorites, Kevin Kastning. This year, he’s partnered up with pianist Gary Husband with the release of Tor & Vale.
Also released on the MoonJune label, the album was recorded at a spacious studio called Casamurada which is located at a 12th century farmhouse in Catalonia, an hour outside of Barcelona, Spain. Husband not only plays the piano, but he’s also a drummer. He’s been performing since 1979 by playing with Allan Holdsworth, Cream’s Jack Bruce, Level 42, John McLaughlin, and Billy Cobham’s Spectrum.
Listening to Tor & Vale, is like going through your ECM records collection back in the mid ‘70s that you haven’t heard for a long time. With Wingfield’s soundscapes and Husband’s piano playing, it sets up these wandering horizons that awaits us to go beyond those mountains. The Golden Thread is Wingfield and Husband’s nod to the late great Duke Ellington.
Wingfield creates these arpeggiated melodies while Husband takes the “A” train with a little twist towards Bebop, Swing, and Balladry music. There are some eerie wonders that Gary does by setting up more of these concerto-like sequences for Mark to create these storyboards with a moody landscape as if he was writing his own take of Sibelius’ The Swan of Tuonela to create the darkness for the Night Song.
Both Shape of Light and Silver Sky sets up these exotic locations of a snowstorm by seeing our first glimpses of the sun that is finally getting away from the rain and thunders that have been going on. You could tell that Mark is channeling Terje Rypdal and Gary honoring Kevin Kastning as well. I just wished that Kevin appeared on both of these tracks so that he could lend both Gary and Mark a helping hand.
It would have made these tracks some of those wonderful moments for Kastning to bring out his 30-string contra-alto guitar to create some of the winds bursting through the storm on his instrument to create the intensity of the weather. Vaquita is a classical uprising to close Tor & Vale out.
There’s a wonderful nod that Gary does on Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto 1 in B-flat minor. Which I found to be very interesting for him to do that in a Jazz motif while Mark’s sun-setting melodies makes you want to get up and watch the sun go down by bringing to a standstill before the mood suddenly changes to a minimal sequence from Husband’s piano going from one area to another.
The album contains a 16-page booklet containing photos of Mark and Gary in the studio and outside during the making of Tor & Vale, and liner notes by Bill Milkowski as he does the interviews with them. Tor & Vale is a very interesting release that MoonJune Records have released.
It did take me about two listens of hearing this album from start to finish. And I have to say that this is a not so bad release, but pretty good album this year. And I hope to hear more from Wingfield for many years to come to see what ideas that his brain will come up with next.