ARTEMIS, In Real Time Review
Embracing the Wild: ARTEMIS’ ‘In Real Time’ Channels the Untamed Spirit of the Goddess
by Stamish Malcuss
ARTEMIS, an all-female jazz ensemble, unveils their sophomore Blue Note Records album, In Real Time. Initially formed in 2017 by pianist and composer Renee Rosnes, it is renowned for its international lineup of esteemed musicians hailing from the US, Canada, France, Chile, Israel, and Japan. The group’s self-titled debut album, released on Blue Note Records in 2020, brought together the talents of Rosnes with Anat Cohen, Melissa Aldana, Ingrid Jensen, Noriko Ueda, Allison Miller, and Cécile McLorin Salvant. Drawing inspiration from the Greek goddess Artemis, the band symbolizes a divine union of hunting courage, wild nature, and purity.
In Real Time reveals a refreshed lineup for the collective, with founding members Renee Rosnes, Allison Miller, Ingrid Jensen, and Noriko Ueda welcoming the fresh talents of tenor saxophonist Nicole Grover and multi-reedist Alexa Tarantino. Rosnes, the pianist, composer, and bandleader, eloquently describes the album’s essence: “Music exists in time. Without time, there is no music. Photographs and works of visual art are frozen in time. Music is liquid time in the air.” This eight-track collection offers a mix of original compositions by band members and thoughtfully curated covers, including Lyle Mays’ “Slink” and Wayne Shorter’s “Penelope.”
Mays’ “Slink” opens the album and introduces the power of this ensemble to create a feel in time that is carried by a transposing ostinato and flowing counterpoint. The ensemble builds the dynamics, shaping each section with purpose and musical intent. Rosnes’ solo keeps the theme’s color and richness intact throughout her beautiful performance. Miller’s drumming is equally exciting; together, they create a powerful interactive chemistry. Jensen’s solo is lyrical, and her tone is warm, focused, and charged with rhythmic accents.
Rosnes’ exhilarating composition, “Empress Afternoon,” first featured on her 2002 Blue Note album Life on Earth, makes a stunning reappearance. The fast-paced, intricate piece highlights Rosnes’ commanding presence as both performer and composer. Grover enthralls listeners with a blazing tenor saxophone solo, followed by yet another captivating statement by Rosnes. Tarantino’s solo performance is equally remarkable, exhibiting a fascinating contrast between the two saxophonists’ stylistic approaches, as Rosnes observes. She further lauds the influences and originality present in Glover and Tarantino’s performances, describing the former as an improviser who “loves to jump into the deep end of the pool” and the latter as a musician with a “rich, purposeful tone” and a knack for crafting “lyrical melodies.”
ARTEMIS presents an enjoyable set of eight creative, flowing, and highly musical selections with In Real Time. The music showcases a unified ensemble sound and highlights each member’s unique voice and creativity. The ensemble’s chemistry has undoubtedly grown since their first album, as they continue to evoke the spirit of the Greek goddess Artemis as the ensemble exhibits courage, untamed nature, and purity in their music.