Angharad Davies/Axel Dörner

A.D.
Another Timbre at31

Benjamin Duboc/Itaru Oki

Nobusiko

Improvising Beings ib01

Creating novel techniques for instruments as familiar as the trumpet, the double bass and the violin is difficult enough. However these duo CDs are doubly absorbing, since the participants have created individual inventions for one brass and one chordaphone while stretching outwards their expected timbres.

In a context such as this, Nobusiko is actually the more traditional of the discs. That’s because French bassist Benjamin Duboc habitually uses the stolid percussive qualities of his four strings to maintain a chromatic bottom. Meanwhile Japanese-born Itaru Oki, who has long made his home in France, bounces, splutters and spits out as many textures as can be imagined from his trumpet, flugelhorn, wood flute and plastic tubing. Duboc, one of the busiest bassists in Paris, may also be able to foretell and calculate many of Oki’s rubato moves, since both are members of NUTS, the excellent French Free Jazz quintet.

A.D. – evidently named for initials of both participants – is a different matter. Capable of also playing fiery Free Jazz, Berlin-based Axel Dörner’s unique reductionist and minimalist brass technique here meets another challenge when duetting with the equally obtuse and often strident tones of London-based Angharad Davies’ violin. Davies often works with similar sound experimenters such as electronics manipulator Benedict Drew and inside piano specialist Tisha Makarji.

In her three improvisations with the trumpeter here, she uses brittle scrubs and comprehensive spiccato lines to create resonations to meet Dörner’s air leaking timbres, slide-whistle like peeps plus growls that sometimes take on thunder-sheet like stresses. Separating these distanced plinks and plucks from different string positions and the sometimes continuous no-valve touching expelling of pure air are extended silences, which give both parties time for cerebral regrouping.

With much of interface discordant, abrasive yet languendo, it’s a tribute to the participants that the pieces move as linearly as they do, often helped by stop-start sul tasto swipes from the fiddler and narrowed multiphonic puffs from the brass man. At points in fact the technical skills displayed is such that while some timbres may be inchoate, they are created with such single-mindedness, that many can be ascribed to neither strings nor brass.

No such confusion exists on the other CD. That because sputtering and warbling bras textures, airy wooden flute peeps or tube reverberations can be easily distinguished from string maneuvering, no matter how strained or spiccato Duboc`s lines may be. Irregular harsh plucks are matched with rubato brass squeaks and steady walking with burbled hockets or hesitant tongue flutters.

Seemingly ambidextrous, if not multi-armed, Oki, on a piece such as “Ihoujin” thickens his shrill shrieks with multi-flute resonation and methodical bell-ringing as Duboc thumps the wood of his bass’s waist and belly. However on other tracks, such as “Harawata”, Duboc limits himself to sul tasto pops and background thumps with his string-set, while the trumpeter displays grace notes, strained triplets and squeezes out encircling grace notes to make his point.

Overall the CD builds up to the concluding “Siwasu”, where sul ponticello stops and focused strums not only mute Oki’s vociferous note squalling and emphasized split tones, but also move the duet more towards to more melodic textures.

Two string sets, two brass players, and two wholly different methods of creating notable improvisations are available on these significant CDs.

— Ken Waxman

Track Listing: Nobusiko: 1. Shyukendo 2. Fudo 3. Harawata 4. Rindo 5. Yamabusi 6. Tengu no Akubi 7. Ikoujin 8. Siwasu

Personnel: Nobusiko: Itaru Oki (trumpet, flugelhorn, reed flute and tube) and Benjamin Duboc (bass),

Track Listing: A.D.: 1. Stück Un 2. Stück Dau 3. Stück Tri

Personnel: A.D.: Axel Dörner (trumpet) and Angharad Davies (violin)