August 13, 2009
Nemu Records 008
Creative Sources CS 151 CD
Utilizing two strings and one woodwind, a recital formation favored by Schubert and Debussy – and in jazz by Jimmy Giuffre – each of these ensembles brings unique, ambitious strategies to the resulting blend. Both paths are valid, with the divergence mostly related to preferences for acoustic over electronic interface or vice versa, and of the improvisations clinging to remnants of the song form verses a commitment to absolute abstraction.
Both CDs were recorded at approximately the same time and both trios are made up of musicians of approximately the same age and German background – except for Trio Hot’s Belgian bassist Peter Jacquemyn. Senior improviser of the bands is Theo Jörgensmann, who plays G-Low or basset clarinet. He has recently been involved with bands filled out by the Polish bass-and-drum playing Oleś brothers. Member at various times of drummer Andrea Centazzo’s Mitteleuropa Orchestra and flugelhornist Franz Koglmann’s Pipetet, as long as 30 years ago he organized an all-clarinet ensemble. Trio Hot is filled out by Jacquemyn, who creates dance projects and improvises with the likes of violinist Gunda Gottschalk and saxophonist Jeffrey Morgan when not working as a sculptor; and Köln-based violinist/violist/vocalist Albrecht Maurer. Adapting modern techniques to period instruments in other contexts, Maurer’s improvisational work includes membership in bassist Kent Carter’s trio.
Rot’s participants are all Munich-based. Lecturer in guitar and New music at the Richard Strauss Conservatory and at the University of Music and Performing Arts, Harald Lillmeyer is also a member of the Go Guitars ensemble and has played so-called classical music. So has cellist Margarita Holzbauer, as well as having an involvement in sound installations, film and theatre music and improvisation. Like Trio Hot, this formation’s senior member is also a reedist: soprano saxophonist and bass clarinetist Udo Schindler. Involved with self-invented techniques to enlarge the limits of reed sounds, he has worked with Go Guitars plus improvisers such as trombonist Sebi Tramontana.
Schindler’s research extends to the integration of electronic media in performance, and on the 14 untitled pieces here, the contrapuntal mating of his reed plus Holzbauer’s squeaks or plucks – sometimes lyrical, but more frequently powerful and abrasive – add the requisite shading when the others’ unconnected timbres approach chiaroscuro and threaten to remain understated to the point of inaudibility.
More notable are when sul tasto patterning as well as below-the-bridge spiccato from the cellist bring out connective responses from the guitarist and reedist. At one point, for example, that strategy causes Lillmeyer to put aside folksy strumming for sudden bursts of feedback and Schindler to mutate his blowing into a cyclone of intermittent peeps and continuously breathed trills.
Elsewhere, Lillmeyer’s outer-space-like oscillations meet up with quivering bass clarinet split tones forced from the bell with intense overblowing, as the cellist accompanies the others with harmonics. Honking reed altissimo trills and basso sul tasto cello actions entwine contrapuntally until the crackling pulses push the program into silence. Klangfarbenmelodie is often apparent along with the polyphonic tone variants that encompass wobbly, staccato or fortissimo tones. Juicy reverb and echoing whistles from the reedist; shuffle-bowed ricocheting lines and hammering against wood and strings from the cellist, and blustery drones and processed electronics pulses show up singly or in triple counterpoint as well.
Similar multi-directional textures appear on Jinx, with Jörgensmann’s unusually low-pitched straight clarinet trills, Jacquemyn’s string-bass methodology plus Maurer’s versatility when he appends wordless countertenor cries to his violin work on show.
That tandem correlation is used to good effect on “Angelity”, when lyricism results due to string multiphonics and Maurer’s semi-scatting. Coloratura clarinet tones and scrubbed bass stopping then mate the dissonant to the dreamy. This cohesion contrasts with “Setting Up The Market” with both string-players snapping and popping their catgut as Jörgensmann’s top-of-range coloring somewhat resembles shrill nose-blowing. With timbres splaying every which way, including extended fiddle staccato and reed-biting trills, the title tune seems to include some of the pitch-sliding layering of “Parisian Thoroughfare”, including call-and-response vamps from the clarinetist and Maurer.
That Bud Powell-penned jazz classic isn’t formally acknowledged here, however the deconstruction of another famous composition by a bop pianist – Thelonious Monk’s “Round Midnight” – is. Beginning with legato string sweeps from Maurer, double bass smacks and single-line clarinet trills and peeps, it’s apparent that these high-pitched counter measures are variation on the as-yet unstated theme. Cutting through the inchoate interludes, Jörgensmann blows a neo-romantic variant joined by chromatic sweeps from Maurer. When the andante walking bass lines appears so does the melody. Still the familiar theme is exposed in a less-than-straightforward manner with Jacquemyn slapping bongo-like on the bull fiddle’s wood, Maurer strumming and picking and Jörgensmann spluttering mercurially.
Fine examples of mature Euro-Improv trio sessions, the usual evasive and derogative meanings of Jink and Rot are not proper descriptions for these sessions.
— Ken Waxman
Track Listing: Jink: 1. Straight Into 2. You Zuo 3. Zoo on the Road 4. Round Midnight 5. Jink 6. Angelity 7. Setting Up The Market 8. Dax Dance 9. Gesture Talk 10. Stop And Go And Run 11. Zbiggery 11. After All
Personnel: Jink: Theo Jörgensmann (G-Low clarinet); Albrecht Maurer (violin and voice) and Peter Jacquemyn (bass and voice)
Track Listing: Rot: 1. 4:56 2. 4:33 3. 4:06 4. 2:13 5. 3:43 6. 4:26 7. 1:49 8. 5:50 9. 2:18 10. 4:22 11. 4:42 10. 1:17 13. 4:06 14. 7:45 15. 4:14
Personnel: Rot: Udo Schindler (soprano saxophone and bass clarinet); Harald Lillmeyer (guitar and electronics) and Margarita Holzbauer (cello)