Ruth Saphir: Accolades of Time

Saphir on vocals / flute with Kate Wyatt, Adrian Vedady, Mili Hong, & Geneviève Gauthier

Ruth Saphir: Accolades of Time

Vocalist Ruth Saphir's new album Accolades of Time includes Mili Hong on drums, for most tracks, to great effect – I enjoy hearing what she's up to in the post-Vancouver stage of her career. What the album's title means is not entirely clear to me; it's on the last track, which is short and doesn't have much improvisation. Saphir, who also holds down a career in music therapy, uses the title phrase as a refrain and a sort of destination.

The piano-bass hookup is immense across the record: makes sense, it's Kate Wyatt and Adrian Vedady, respectively. The two partners who stand tall on Montreal's music scene share an important role here, because this is basically a piano trio plus vocal album. I enjoy the simple pleasures of the piano comping, the timefeel, the piano following the melody. The piano tone is well-placed and sensitive, but for me the bass tone is especially wonderful: some nice string buzz mixed into an even sound.

Only a couple tracks of saxophonist Geneviève Gauthier, and Saphir's own flute playing, provide other melodic and solo features. Saphir wrote music and lyrics for every song, plus one ("Lost at Sea") being a co-write.

This project sits deep in the vocal jazz idiom – at least the one without scatting. It doesn't yearn to be modern or experimental and keeps the lengths of songs to positively radio-friendly runtimes. The only track that feels like a whole meal is "Find It In Your Body".

"Twinkle Twinkle" is interesting, too: the harmony on it, the themes of being kept or controlled by a man and trying to express yourself amid that, wishing for a new state of life.

Earlier on "Ancestral Shadows", the wish to bring justice for people who have suffered in the past, or to mend the wounds that your loved ones have suffered, opens the album. That theme has been showing up in thoughtful explorations like the Ostara Project's Magee concert and member of that band Allison Au's Migrations Ensemble. "Ancestral Shadows" is one of Saphir's highest energy tracks, with a drum solo section for Mili and Gauthier's saxophone featured.

"Go Home" is a memorable blues-ish tune where Saphir shows great range on swinging time. This mood also demonstrates finding what you need in the body, like the album cut of that name. It's a celebration of the intuitive approach. Maybe the accolades of time are what you get after enough decades of pursuing your intuition with your full heart.

released May 17, 2024 / Buy digital (Bandcamp) / available on streaming