Jane Ira Bloom/Mark Helias “See Our Way”

While preparing for an upcoming interview with bassist Mark Helias, I started making a list of artists he’s worked with over the past 40+ years and it’s an astonishing list. Helias has worked with everyone from Anthony Braxton and Don Cherry to the late Dennis Gonzalez and Bill Laswell. Some of his most inviting work, though, has been with soprano saxophonist Jane Ira Bloom. See Our Way continues this collaboration forward into beautiful spaces that feel as though a cooped up energy has been set free.

Recorded over multiple sessions in 2021-22, See Our Way is lyrical and emotionally rich. Bloom and Helias have a long history of playing together and their intuitive connection shines throughout. Bowed bass passages intertwine with Bloom’s lithe stretches on “Laser Plane” imbuing the piece with a sense of longing and lament. Notes rise like smoke from fresh ruins, everything still feels raw, but the dissipating fear welcomes a newfound lightness. Helias’s patterns begin to find footing in the softest places, connecting with Bloom’s lithe phrasings in thoughtful ways.

See Our Way covers a lot of ground, showing off that when two musicians with a long-running connection and affinity get together, there’s no end to the possibilities. Quick runs dart between the missives on “Hard Science” and “Detectives.” Hints of the blues “Hold The Wire” coalesce into some of Helias’s most inspired playing on the album as his strings dance across the illuminated landscape. As a phone rings in the background, the ideas keep coming in waves so that the duo always has fertile ground to unearth. 

Effervescence in Bloom’s quick movements on songs like “Perfect Memory” are enlivening, but the way she quickly slides into more emotive, elongated arrangements is mesmerizing. Helias adds heft in the lower registers, taking a direct approach to tethering the music to the last remaining foundations. His melodic bowed waves on “Imaginary Fences” flit between inward somber motifs and heartfelt outward expression. There’s such a rich texture and sense of ardor embedded in each passage.

Wistful moments of quiet flow through the fantastic “Folks Sing,” winding through ancient channels into the closing remnants of yesterday on “Second Hand Lonely.” Air flows through the room, moving out the skeletons from too many months stuck behind glass and drifting away with the melancholic leftovers from a year of dust. See Our Way is enchanting, bringing us together in unexpected ways and riding the emotions of the moment into something special to share. All The Heavens Were A Bell “Still Black Water As Deep As Forever”

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