Marilyn Mazur's Celestial Circle

Josefine Cronholm – voice
John Taylor – piano RIP, deceased july 2015. We miss you very much.
Anders Jormin - bass
Marilyn Mazur - drums, percussion & vocals

"Celestial Circle" is the recording debut of the band of the same name. First assembled for Marilyn Mazur's season as artist-in-residence at Norway's Molde Jazz Festival in 2008, the group has since become a popular institution on the concert circuit, and the present disc, recorded in Oslo's Rainbow Studio in 2010 is issued on the eve of a European tour. It's a band of diverse strengths and changing moods, song-oriented but also instrumentally expressive. Organically percussive, too, with Mazur's panoply of drums and gongs and cymbals and bells a source of natural melody and evocative texture. Pianist John Taylor, in his first ECM session in several years, is keyed at all times to the inflections of Josefine Cronholm's voice, framing it with his characteristic harmonic sophistication and elegant lyricism. Anders Jormin's bass provides a dark undertow, anchors the music, moves freely in the improvised sections... Even in its quietest moments the group conveys a great deal of musical information.
Mazur's work has always expressed a free-spiritedness beyond idioms and borders. Born in New York, raised in Denmark, she has contributed powerfully to improvisation on both sides of the Atlantic, and her resume has included well-documented stints with Miles Davis, Wayne Shorter and Gil Evans in the late 1980s as well as 14 years on the road with the Jan Garbarek Group (an association referenced on Mazur's "Elixir" recording of 2005).
Alongside such high-profile engagements, Mazur has maintained her own bands and projects; ECM recorded her Future Song ensemble in 1994. One such project was Percussion Paradise which included singer Josefine Cronholm – the combination of Cronholm's and Mazur's voices is further developed in Celestial Circle.
Mazur has received a number of awards for her music, most recently the First International EuroCore - JTI Jazz Award: Celestial Circle played at the prize-giving ceremony in Trier's Kurfürstliches Palais last December. Other prizes have included the JazzPar Prize (Europe's biggest jazz award), the Ben Webster Prize and the Django D'Or.
"Celestial Circle" marks an ECM debut for Swedish singer Cronholm. Since the mid-1990s, when she collaborated with Django Bates's Human Chain group, she has been consistently singled out as one of the most original European jazz vocalists of her generation.
John Taylor's elegant and resourceful piano playing has had a role to play in many ECM contexts including discs with Jan Garbarek, John Surman, Kenny Wheeler, Miroslav Vitous and Peter Erskine as well as Azimuth, the trio he co-founded with Wheeler and Norma Winstone, and his own 'New York Trio' with Marc Johnson and Joey Baron (album: "Rosslyn"). Taylor's rapport was bassist Anders Jormin who was previously confirmed on Mark Feldman's 2006 recording "What Exit".
Anders Jormin also records as a leader for ECM, with recordings including "Xieyi" and "In winds, in light" (a new album is in preparation). He is a long-term member of the Bobo Stenson Trio, and appears on ECM discs by Charles Lloyd, Don Cherry, Tomasz Stanko, Mark Feldman, Jon Balke and Sinikka Langeland.
Downbeat march 2012
John Ephland ends his 5 star review of the CD:
One of Celestial Circle’s greatest treats is Mazur’s bringing in John Taylor, whose piano never ceases to astound, his lyrical touch and pacing, his note choices and overall genuine artistry a marvel of sonic majesty. That he and Mazur happen to be on the same page is cause for celebration. And that Josefine Cronholm and Anders Jormin are also up to the challenge makes for a real party. —John Ephland
CD: Marilyn Mazur Celestial Circle
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YouTube clip:
Den Bestøvlede Fugl
w. Celestial Circle
Here is Martin Milners poetic impression of one of Celestial Circle's concerts,
august 2014 at A-trane, Berlin.

Celestial circles of hanging bells
strung across sterile space:
a chi-chi jazz club on the corner,
the street now rendered the circle’s centre,
bedecked with chimes and bells,
honoured with purely-voiced pitches
working together
for the light
the release
the acknowledgement
                                    the salvation of our meagre souls.
 
We are transformed into beings of light
we spirits imperfect but somehow holy
recipients of blessings, bells,
re-unification rendered again by der Rhythmus …
 
… the rhythm, in waves,
sound of the seas
not symmetric-troc, not clock, no,
not like clock-machine tick,
(there is talk of tick and tock and no-one here is slave to that clock)
but yes! -
rhythm of the seasons, the moon rounding south of my house;
not of decaying isotopes or crystalline conformity,
but regular as breath,
sometimes held,
when you forget,
to breathe,
when mind,
is astounded by what it perceives…
But it is important to keep breathing!
- - -
In the stillness of the circle
where the pianist puts his notes, his silver drops
down into deepstill pool, surface turbulent perhaps, but still within,
slowly he is waking the bass from the double depths,
to dance:
 
“I will travel today,
and tomorrow away,
a new world each day”
so the song is sung along the way
 
From within the stillness,
pebbles dropping into pond
so the spirits awake,
respond, and,
begin to churn the waters into patterns
like sand on a disc that’s vibrating
and the frequencies keep changing
the patterns emerging from each other:
a dreaming dance of lives here and gone,
here and gone,
here, gone, and still to come.
 ---
He peeps across at her;
she is eyesclosed, immersed
He keeps on peeping,
though he hears perfectly
and perfectly fits his part within and around hers.
---
Attune yourself as best you can
to bass-bowed natural harmonics,
pitches to mesmerize Pythagoras!
Not squared or ruled-off-ruled-out by human calculation,
but wild,
or at least free,
universal,
ready to be summoned, or heard:
the breath of Brahma
a cosmic wind, always blowing
if you had but ears to hear it or kites to catch it.
 
And from this everlasting background radiation of sounds comes forth a human imprint placed carefully on top,
players, loving rhythms,
patterns placed with positive intent,
deliberately liberated from the foundation of those cosmic chord vibrations;
taken on and taken up by the spirit in the people,
this distinctly human activity, this music,
one that bridges from here to – yes, I’ll say it – eternity.
---
Run, Run!
the sun is whirling around
the world is filling up with things
they don’t go away,
more and more,
it’s becoming Chaos
whirling around
under the sun.
 
Run, friend, run!


Martin Milner
2013

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