Zero is the result of freely improvised expression. The set includes some of Neckam's original compositions and on-the-spot improvisations. As a whole, Zero is an experience for careful listeners, who like to think outside the box. This album was recorded on the spot in a Manhattan studio apartment with no preparation or rehearsal.
Zero "is a collaboration between Austrian expatriate singer-composer Maria Neckam and acclaimed Finnish pianist Mika Pohjola. Maria Neckam has never played it safe, especially with her writing and her vocal interpretations, but with Zero this New York-based artist is really flying without a net. She has found the perfect improvisational partner in Pohjola, whose earlier piano-vocalist duo outings included Sophie Duner, Lina Nyberg and Jill Walsh. With fearless abandon, Neckam and Pohjola roam freely through a series of spontaneous, contemplative modal sketches, occasionally coloring completely outside the lines. Neckam's composition, Wenn es dunkel wird (roughly translated, When it gets dark) is compelling, taking the listener across a mind-field of introspective rumination. With a bit more structure than some of the other tracks on this release, it is a reasonable jumping-off point for those who are just sticking their big toes into the chilly waters of the avant-garde; to an open mind already swimming in its currents, the Weillian imagery of this piece opens into a dreamy, existential garden shrouded in the encroaching fog of twilight."
Bill Barnes, Jazz.com
Photo © David Bronson