'We're All Improvisers Now' is the debut solo album by New York/Montreal-based performer Tommy Crane, a tranquil, introspective journey through boundary-traversing ambient jazz, buoyed by the creative elan of an artist in full experimentation mode. Using sensory percussion and a battery of synthesisers, Crane creates a sequence of lucid sonic environments, where the real and synthetic meet, overlap and reappear disguised and opaque.
The title's double meaning is immediately apparent; the album is an uncommon take on improvising from a performer incorporating ambient sensibilities and the title also accurately describes the situation many artists found themselves in amidst the pandemic. For Crane, the pandemic provided a rare gift of time that allowed him to explore his love for electronic and analogue production.
"I don't think I will ever make a record like this again - this was one big experiment," he says of a project with DIY trappings. After eventually returning from Italy where he was teaching drums and improv classes as Siena Jazz Institute, Crane settled in Montreal with his Canadian partner. At the beginning of the lockdown, he created a spaceship-like rig in his spare room comprised of assorted synths and 'sensory' percussion (which assigns new sounds to drums). The album features welcome contributions from colleagues phoned in from afar, including saxophonists Logan Richardson and Charlotte Greve, guitarist Simon Angell and bassist Jordan Brooks.