ADD NORTHWIND to the growing list of skilled proponents of pastoral folk- jazz who aim to provide aural ambrosia to those willing to close their eyes and open their minds. A trio that mixes strings (Lorin Noller's 12-string guitar), keyboards (Doro Reeves' acoustic piano) and a wind instrument (Gary MacReady's tenor saxophone) in intriguing and ethereal fantasies, Northwind plays impressionist music that is above all peaceful and romantic, New Age soul music.
In "Circles of Fire," the trio's target of "soothing sonority" is explored effectively in the title cut and "Something in the Wind," in which a trance-like pulse courses through aching melodies. Reeves also pays tribute to her mentor, George Winston, on an introspective solo piece, "Pokiatu," in which lush chords and gossamer single-note lines meet in the night air.
Still, the best moments on Northwind's second album can be found in a series of duets between Reeves and MacReady that recall the '60s encounter between Bill Evans and Cannonball Adderley. Like Evans and Winston, Reeves is a romantic pianist whose introspective approach is folk-simple and lyric-spiritual. MacReady, whose sturdier approach also suggests John Klemmer and Eric Kloss, summons a bit more energy and bluster, though he doesn't sound too confident on such uptempo tunes as "Jubilation" or the Gato Barbieri-sh reading of "La Vida Es Suneo." However, on "Thoughts and Feelings," "Night Breeze" and the elegiac "Morning Rain," Reeves and MacReady draw each other out, with Reeves evoking a bluesy wistfulness and MacReady a lilting mellowness. Lovely.
NORTHWIND -- "Circles in the Fire" (Palo Alto PA8076); appearing Sunday at 8 at Blair High School, Silver Spring.