Pat Battstone & Giorgia Santoro, Dream Notes
by Nolan DeBuke
American pianist Pat Battstone and Italian flutist Giorgia Santoro, though from two different countries, feel almost like kindred spirits in their communicative rapport. Battstone, a prolific pianist, has a growing discography that includes nine previously released CDs, Mystic Nights, The Last Taxi, Beyond the Horizon, From Dream to Dream, Rylesonable, Elements, In Transit, Travelling Light, and New Destinations.Santoro has won many prestigious national and international contests. She has worked with composers Giorgio Gaslini, Alessandro Solbiati, Marco Betta, Michele Dall’ Ongaro, Raffaele Bellafronte, Salvatore Sciarrino, Luis De Pablo, Roberto Beccaceci, Kaija Saariaho, Emanuele Casale, Francesco Feledei, Geoffroy Drouin, Sylvano Bussotti, Karola Obermuller, Curt Cacioppo, Ivan Fedele, and David Lang.
Together their chemistry is eloquently demonstrated and inspired by painter Daniela Chionna who Battstone has a strong affinity for her paintings. Battstone explains, “when she did this series, “Dream Notes,” I immediately wanted to play music to these paintings. They were quite different than her previous works, having a Japanese ambiance, with barrenness and voices calling from beyond. They also were set in winter, so I made my travel plans for a winter date.” The result is a stunning album aptly titled Dream Notes, and it’s one of Battstone’s best album to date.
“L’albero Dell’ incantatore” opens with a beautiful solo flute statement by Santoro. Her tone, breath and attention to articulation is captivating. There is something deliciously unrefined about purely improvised music. Battstone joins and the duet creates lines of symmetry and similarly imperfect edges, their classic jazz training punctuated with a few classical influences for comfort. While many jazzer’s hold tight to the traditional structures of form, free improvisors favor bolting to the unknown with no pre-conceived riffs and solo in a conversational manner. In that light, Battstone and Santoro sound brilliantly—like two souls welded together in a musical conversation of exploration.
“Beyond The River Banks” is the duet at their best, Santoro expressiveness is channeled into Battstone’s lush piano sonorities. The Japanese harmonic and melodic colors are void of awkwardness as the two shapes the space into a song. The places Battstone leads us are thrilling in their instability. The duet is some time on the edge of collapse before the unexpectedly well-mannered harmonic nudge, or melodic tidbit brings the song into focus. The music is modish enough to remind you that free improvisation is the true expression, and it is only recorded to mark a moment in time for the millennium.
Santoro and Battstone encountered each other initially on his recording New Destinations, it was evidently clear the two had a question and response immediacy that makes for incredible collaborative atmospheres. With Dream Notes, they further this spirit with conversational duets, that offer a depth of inspiration from Chionna’s “Dream Notes” series. The emotional connection is strong as they traverse a myriad of exotic and adaptive cohesion. Nothing short of a tour de force.