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English tenor John Potter's Dowland Project returns with the album Night Sessions, following In Darkness Let Me Dwell, Care-Charming Sleep and Romaria in a highly successful series. From its inception, The Dowland Project has drawn upon different musical traditions including those of 'early music' and improvisation. These "Night Sessions" emphasize the group's improvisational flexibility and resourcefulness, as the musicians create new music in the moment, sometimes with medieval poetry as inspirational reference and guide.
There are also a number of 'daytime' pieces worked up, Potter notes, from small amounts of notation: 'Menino Jesus á Lappa' is based on Portuguese pilgrim song fragments and 'Theoleptus 22' built around a Byzantine chant. Lute fantasias are taken from Dalza's Intabolatura de Lauto (Venice, 1508) and Attaignant's Tres breve et familiere introduction...a jouer toutes chansons (Paris, 1529). The oldest compositions are Can vei la lauzeta mover - a love song by the 12th century troubadour Bernart de Ventadorn, and Fumeux fume by the 14th century avant-gardist Solage.
Two incarnations of the Dowland Project are heard here, the original band with Potter, lutenist Stephen Stubbs and saxophonist John Surman joined by bassist Barry Guy and baroque violinist Maya Homburger, and the revised line-up with Milos Valent on violin and viola. The sessions were recorded in the wonderful acoustic of the church at the St Gerold monastery in the Austrian Alps.
Personnel: John Potter (tenor), John Surman (saxophones, bass clarinet, percussion), Stephen Stubbs (lute), Maya Homburger (violin), Milos Valent (violin, viola), Barry Guy (double bass) (collective personnel)
(5 stars) This album has all the virtues and delights of the previous ones...These immaculate, lithe performances, replete with passion, adventurousness, exemplary phrasing and timing and tonal beauty, will make your scalp prickle. --BBC Music Magazine, (Barry Witherden), October 2013
(4 stars) The Dowland Project improvise around Latin fragments and weaving in snatches of traditional melody...John Potter's tenor voice impels and summarises. --Financial Times, (David Honigmann), June 29, 2013
This is grown-up crossover, in that no crossover is involved. It is simply a group of musicians, from very different backgrounds, making wonderful music. --International Record Review, (Ivan Moody), December 2013
Entrancing...people will surrender to its atmosphere and sound (beautiful, in my opinion, and beautifully recorded too). --Gramophone, (Lindsay Kemp), September 2013
Although it's an odd album in a way, it may also be a masterpiece of mood and musical artistry. Night Sessions is guaranteed to stand out in any collection - part churchy/worship feel, part lute-led medieval, romantic, spiritual, occasionally histrionic...all pulled together by a contemporary improvising sensibility. --Jazz Journal, (Dave Foxall), October 2013