Falling Water Live at Mãe de Áqua
Drimala DR 04-347-06

A compendium of shrill tones and echoes, this improvisational meeting between American reedist Joe Giardullo and Portuguese violinist Carlos Zìngaro almost becomes a sacramental interaction. Recorded in a large, stone, temple-like space surrounded by a garden and connected to the Lisbon aqueduct, the resulting natural reverb creates an unexpected primitivism that invests the CD with near mystical ritual-like sound. Paradoxically the results are not unlike what the fiddler has used electronics to achieve in the past.

An improv nocturne FALLING WATER’s seven instant compositions arrange themselves into a suite of moods and motions, with the natural surroundings multiplying the string and reed textures and subtly creating near contrapuntal lines. Zìngaro, who has improvised with everyone from French bassist Jöelle Léandre to American electronics master Richard Teitelbaum, and Giardullo, whose associates have included multi-instrumentalist Joe McPhee and composer/accordionist Pauline Oliveros, easily take the watery timbres in stride.

Among the double counterpoint and pulsating single lines the players create, reverberating aquatic impulses twist these tones so that many take on multiphonic properties and polyphonic pulses. On the penultimate number, “Per.Plexo” for instance, Zìngaro seems to be playing a brace of violins, each pitched a half step above the next. Veloce, his bow pressure creates portamento vibrations that inflate the timbres even more. On “Nó”, Giardullo appears to be constantly constricting his trills so that they almost become microscopic whistles. Soon though, the fiddler’s offside pizzicato plucks add extra texture.

Falsetto screeches, wavering tremolo passages and hollow reverberations float throughout the disc to such an extent that often you’re not sure whether a passage should be attributed to reed biting or spiccato bowing. All and all though, most of these segmented asides eventually identify themselves as tongue-stopping breaths or humming string vibrations. Suspended in the air as much as they’re heard, this cascading cross-patterning works itself out as mesmerizing pulses.

No CD for the timid, FALLING WATER should impress those interested in how sophisticated players can stitch together natural noises and improvisational impulses into a multi-faced texture.

— Ken Waxman

Track Listing: 1. Sal 2. Astrolábio 3. Fala 4. Nó 5. Pedra 6. Per.Plexo 7. Distância

Personnel: Joe Giardullo (soprano and alto saxophones and piccolo); Carlos Zìngaro (violin)