Bill Laurance & Michael League

Where You Wish You Were

ACT Music • 2023

Fans of the fusion collective Snarky Puppy will immediately know who they are when they hear the names of the artists on this album. Bassist Michael League is one of the founders of the Texas jazz project, as is British pianist Bill Laurance. The latter has also released various solo albums, and this is the first time the two have appeared as a duo. Those who expect chamber music from them will be disappointed for the most part. Their interludes certainly sound like chamber music, most of them purely acoustic with Bill Laurance on piano, while Michael League alternates between acoustic bass guitar, the lute sounds of the oud and ngoni, and electric guitar – fretless, mind you. The pieces, about half of which are two to three minutes long, are written by them, both solo and together. Quiet encounters without exaggerated solo outbursts, the melodies lyrical without oozing, the rhythms ranging from calm to somewhat evocative, »Where You Wish You Were« feels like a child of the lockdown, which in this case turned out well. Intimate, impressionistic rather than romantically inspired, their improvisations unfold like relaxed conversations that hardly ever lose their thread. Only in »Bricks« do they seem to have felt the urge to recall their full-time fusion project. It is debatable how compelling this acoustic funk is. The title track is an example of eloquent laconism in a confined space: they get straight to the point in a minute and a half.