In The Corners Of Clouds (Whirlwind)


Released November 2018

DownBeat Four-and-a-Half-Star Review



Saxophonist and composer Josephine Davies is engaged in a continually evolving, creative musical expedition with near-chordless trio project Satori; and for this second recorded waymarker,
In the Corners of Clouds (the follow-up to the 2017 Whirlwind debut, Satori), she welcomes drummer James Maddren alongside existing double bassist Dave Whitford to explore eight original numbers, fronted by her own inquiring tenor resonances.

The spontaneity of this purely acoustic trio has already captured imaginations, as well as spurring Davies on in its progression. “We played a lot of shows after the first release and soon after I had written another album’s worth of material; and because our approach has become more and more open, I began to see my tunes mainly as a basis for improvisation. It might be seen as limiting to have no traditional “harmonic instrument” in this line-up—especially with the deeper frequencies of the tenor—but it actually throws melody to the fore, which I like. And if melody is happening you really can do whatever you want. We create so much space together that it actually encourages me to both compose and play in a different way.”

Comprised almost entirely of first takes, the less-rehearsed immediacy of Satori’s sound is fundamental to the ambiences which Davies seeks, and is encapsulated in opening number ‘Wabi Sabi’, named after a Japanese philosophy which embraces and celebrates the beauty in imperfection. Here, Whitford’s rhythmic ostinato and the core melody are broken up, creating an oriental long groove for improvisation before being put back together into a similarly beautiful state. Davies’ long-held fascination with the music of John Coltrane can be heard in ‘Dancing Saint’, its bluesy, smouldering rhythms and long, shaped tenor lines paying homage (with animated individual features for bass and drums).

Title track ‘In the Corners of Clouds’, prompted by two Haiku based on these opposingly angular and ineffable subjects, “arrived very quickly and fully formed”, explains the saxophonist; and its almost singer/songwriter feel is characterised by an attractive, cantabile, downward sequence. Gingerly-trodden ‘Oddities’, built from a clutch of motif snippets, leads to ‘The Space Between Thoughts’, whose finely-spun thoughts echo Buddhist meditation. The impassioned weight of Coltrane-like tune, ‘Cry’, pushes tenor out close and high, dramatized by rumbling bass and drums, only to be contrasted by the joyful South African township sway of ‘Lazy’. To close, ‘Scattered’ (a favorite of the saxophonist) travels through differing key centres, sans time signature, with complete abandon. Reflecting on the affecting unrestraint of Satori, Josephine Davies concludes: “As a culture, we mostly don’t celebrate the crusty, technically imperfect, unglossed aspects of life, but rather seek perfection—and that doesn’t move me. I’ll always go for the intangible or the emotional; that ‘creative something’—which is what I feel all the timeless albums have got. The enduring appeal of Satori is its freedom—a wonderfully exciting and valuable experience.”

Track Listing:

1. Wabi-Sabi (Josephine Davies) 06:11

2. Song of the Dancing Saint (Josephine Davies) 07:04

3. In the Corner of Clouds (Josephine Davies) 05:17

4. Oddities (Josephine Davies) 05:18

5. The Space Between Thoughts (Josephine Davies) 04:31

6. Ccry (Josephine Davies) 06:01

7. Lazy (Josephine Davies) 05:28

8. Scattered (Josephine Davies) 03:45


Josephine Davies: tenor saxophone
James Maddren: drums
Dave Whitford: bass

Recorded February 14, 2018, at Buffalo Studios, London
Producer: Josephine Davies
Executive Producer: Michael Janisch

Recording Engineer: JB Pilon
Mixing: Nick Wollage
Mastering: Peter Beckman
Album Artwork: Fini Bearman
Photography: Tor Hills and Rob Blackham


This is saxophonist Josephine Davies’ second outing with her piano-less trio Satori, and it’s impressive to note how much the group has grown since its eponymous 2017 debut. Although the basic sound remains the same— densely rhythmic, with a sturdy sense of melody and deeply intertwined lines among saxophone, bass and drums—the execution has evolved into something more in the moment, sparking more often from improvisational interplay than compositional forethought. Some of this might have to do with the difference in drummers. Whereas Paul Clarvis, on the first album, was assertively propulsive in the classic Elvin Jones fashion, James Maddren’s gracefully polyrhythmic playing seems somehow more intermingled with the others’ voices, underscoring the pulse without taking sole possession. That’s a crucial difference, because even though many of the tunes here are anchored to a central rhythmic pattern beneath Davies’ mournfully lyric themes, the real magic happens when that pattern goes from stated to implied, and each of the three work their own elaborations on it. Some listeners might miss the bluesy tartness of Davies’ soprano, but her fondness for breathy, arpeggiated asides—a nice way for the saxophone to take on more of a rhythmic role—is better suited to the tenor, and we do get the bonus of overdubbed harmony on “Lazy.” Meanwhile, bassist Dave Whitford continues to amaze, offering assertive, rhythmically agile counterpoint that manages to deliver virtuosic intensity without ever distracting from what his bandmates are up to. Definitely a band to watch.

J.D. Considine (DownBeat)