06 BlackwoodLost and Found
Leaf Music SCCD n006 (leaf-music.ca)

The last piece on Lost and Found is titled Welcome, Peter-Anthony Togni’s attractive slow jazz number. But here, I’ll use that title to segue into comments: this disc of compositions by Togni and Jeff Reilly is indeed welcome; and as the debut release of the Blackwood Duo –Reilly, bass clarinet and Togni, piano – it is most welcome, one of the best things I heard in 2021. Ave Verum by Togni and Reilly is remarkable for the bass clarinetist’s rich sound in the low register, followed by wide registral leaps and dives, and soft non-vibrato tones fading into overt key clicks. Togni’s evocative piano joins the lower instrument with a chant passage in the male voice register. Recorded effectively at the reverberant Trinity St.-Stephen’s church in Amherst, Nova Scotia by engineer Rod Sneddon, it gives me an impression of unmeasured vastness. 

In Reilly’s much different title track, Lost and Found, his clarinet opens expressively, taking off with virtuosic runs, trills, sharp attacks and crescendos or diminuendos while the piano repeats chords suggestive of jazz. His humorous self-describing Suddenly, Snow begins with both instruments in a wild staccato passage, after which the piano’s running bass and comping coincide with an extremely agile bass clarinet; this piece reminds me that brevity is a feature in the pacing and texturing of this disc’s eight works. In contrast, Reilly’s To Dream of Silence opens with long tones in both instruments, including exquisitely controlled pianissimos. Bravo!

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