DÖRNER/KAPLAN/CHAMY

Absence
Creative Sources CS034CD

Know musically as the setting for the pop-musical “Evita” plus jazz-wise as the home of Hollywood soundtrack composer Lalo Schifrin and tenor saxophonist Gato Barbieri, Argentina is pretty much off the improv music map.

Over the years the political climate hasn’t been that hospitable to non-commercial improvisers either, with experimental players such as architect and woodwind player Guillermo Gregorio better known since his move to Chicago than during his many years in his home town of Buenos Aires.

Still, as in many other locations, improv is starting to gain a foothold in that country, as this probing CD demonstrates. Recorded in 2003 in Buenos Aires, it features two Argentinean improvisers – percussionist Diego Chamy and trumpeter Leonel Kaplan – and German microtonalist Axel Dörner.

Dörner, of course, has moved from Free Jazz to create – along with others like Boston’s Greg Kelley – a new minimalist trumpet language based on textures rather than melody. Along the way he’s played with everyone from veteran German pianist Alexander Von Schlippenbach to British soundsinger Phil Minton.

Both on their early thirties, Chamy and Kaplan have developed their own sound and travelled overseas to link up with fellow improvisers. The largely self-taught trumpeter has partnered kindred spirits like French soprano saxophonist Michel Doneda and American reedist Bhob Rainey, while the drummer has worked in British pianist Chris Burn’s Ensemble and improvises with the likes of Doneda, Rainey and Kelley.

Both fare well on this CD in adopting the music’s reduced parameters. Still, Kaplan is at a bit of a disadvantage, since both he and Dörner play the same instrument. All through ABSENCE’s four selections the strategy involves the horn men billowing and vibrating colored air through their body tubes – with little if no use of the valves – while Chamy stretches and scratches percussive textures.

As the disc evolves, the fluttering tones become progressively louder and less concentrated, with virgin air replace by Bronx cheer-like resonations. Also heard are rasping echoes that alternately resemble the sounds expelled from a Tibetan radung or blared from plastic megaphones at outdoor football games. Meanwhile the percussionist appears to be not only grating metal-against-metal in the most abrasive fashion, but cross patterning beats on empty cardboard boxes or wooden sticks.

Replete with elongated silences, the almost electronically oscillated brass whistles and hocketing tones from pressed-against-the-mic trumpet bells eventually combine for tremolo tongue rhythms that vibrate the metal as well as the capillary pipes. Creating breath percussion, the two brassmen distend their output to an echoing crescendo of sawing and braying textures that meld with Chamy’s gritty drum punctuation.

Another improv outpost heard from, ABSENCE proves that Dörner’s South American buddies can hold their own with other minimalist explorers.

— Ken Waxman

Track Listing: 1. thasn’ 2. n’thas 3. asn’th 4.sn’tha

Personnel: Axel Dörner and Leonel Kaplan (trumpets); Diego Chamy (percussion)