Alexey Kruglov/Vladimir Tarasov

In Tempo
SoLyd Records SoLyd 0404

Alexey Kruglov/Vladimir Tarasov

Dialogos

SoLyd Records SoLyd 0403

Rather like the A and B sides of an LP from imaginative artists, these Russian CDs by veteran percussionist Vladimir Tarasov and reed tyro Alexey Kruglov – recorded on the same day – offer contrasting view of the duo’s art. With eastern European craftiness as well, neither is exactly what is advertised.

The sonic interchange captured on Dialogos, including a five-part suite, is clearly in the realm of the avant-garde, with Kruglov holding up his side of the discussion playing eight [!] different instruments and the Tarasov’s detours into Jazz time less frequent than outright percussion extensions. Including a trio of “intermedias” – most likely “intermezzos” – for basset horn, In Tempo may be in fact more “in tempo”. But the pitches, textures and impressions attained too are firmly in the non-linear mode.

As a member of the Ganelin Trio for 15 years, Vilnius-based Tarasov is an old hand at this sort of timbral sleight of hand, and in quarter century since the original trio split up, he has been involved in visual arts, composed orchestral pieces and improvised with the likes of the tenor saxophonist Larry Ochs and multi-reedist Anthony Braxton. In one fashion Moscow-based, Kruglov is Tarasov’s ideal foil, having played separately with all members of the Ganelin Trio. As open as the older musician is to varied stimuli, the reedist has worked with big bands, orchestras and his own combos and even been on stage with actors.

Tellingly, one of Dialogos’ dialogues is entitled “Dialog about Albert Ayler” and on it Kruglov’s tenor saxophone sound shards approximate the American saxophonist’s strained split tones and staccato runs, with tongue flutters referencing the Sanctified rather than the Russian Orthodox church. At the same time while that style of soloing appear to rend homage to Ayler, pressurized staccatissimo, glossolalia and double-tongued snorts and brays also show up on pieces such as “Strange Waltz”. The inference is that his improvising is as Russian-oriented as it is American-emulating. Shrieking call-and-response with reed extensions on the latter tune, plus the drummer rebounding into recognizable Jazz-time tempo, confirms this impression. So do Kruglov’s breathy clarinet respirations on “Waiting”. Precise and moderato, backed by the drummer’s wire-brushed shuffles, the reedist’s bubbling and near-gobbling tones are unique.

In contrast, “Suite of Free Sounds” appear more overtly (eastern) European. With Kruglov propelling his ideas on most of his oral instruments, the sound collection is more formal in a New music sense, but no less emotional. Exhibited are narrowed reed bites, recorder peeps, kazoo-like reverb, factory-whistle replicated shrills and overblowing, with both saxophones simultaneously spraying pressurized overtones. Tarasov’s responses are equally varied encompassing rolls, pops and rebounds, hand-pats, cymbal rattles and slaps plus drags. If Kruglov’s galloping from frenzied split tones to deeply felt chalumeau slurs bring to mind the attributes of many soloists in the experimental reed fraternity, then the percussionist in contrast demonstrates that his rhythm sense not only takes in avant-garde extensions, but also can be as tempo grounded as Max Roach’s or the Count Basie band’s Speedy Jones.

Jones would have been out of his element even with In Tempo, but a less rigid percussionist such Roach, who recorded with Braxton and Cecil Taylor as well as Miles Davis and Charlie Parker would surely have affinity for the disc. With Kruglov confining himself to alto and tenor saxophones – except for basset horn interludes – the Free Jazz-like snaps, rolls and ruffs from the drummer are matched at points with extended key slips and tonal obbligatos which similarly have their origin in the Land of (Free) Jazz.

Take for example the subtle wood clacks and pops Tarasov brings to the appropriately titled “Sound Dances”. Steady ratamacues and rumbles, plus a resound from a thin ride cymbal mark his work, as the saxophonist’s pitches are un-shaded and vibrated, climaxing with dual saxophone multiphonics. With the title – and final track – his playing becomes more conclusive as rim shots and shuffle rhythms take the edge off Kruglov’s super-quick vibrations. On the other hand the so-called intermedias are more mid-range and, moderato, enlivened by a few sibilant snorts and Tarasov’s stroked snares and metallic clatters.

More impressively pieces such as the following “Sketches” and “Breakthrough” provide more scope for woodwind extensions. The first is an individualized showcase for sharp, nearly dyspeptic timbres, disconnected snarls and flutter tonguing, while the percussionist clatters and pops. With wider space in which to express himself, “Breakthrough” could be a reed recital, as Kruglov’s hocketing and patterning thickens as the tune develops, finally accelerating to quivering multiphonic snarls and repeated note clusters. As the saxman constricts his chirps to strangled cries, Tarasov’s rattles, rat-tat-tats and rim shots make the perfect rejoinder.

It would be insulting to limit appreciation for these discs to merely regard them as new instances of reed-percussion interface that stretch back to Sonny Rollins and John Coltrane. Considering Tarasov’s rhythm versatility and Kruglov’s proficiency on multi instruments, the two stand on their own. They are outstanding instances of early 21st Century improv, Russian or not.

—Ken Waxman

Track Listing: Dialogos: 1. Prologue 2. Suite of Free Sounds (Vladimir Rezitsky in Memoriam) a) first part b) second part c) third part d) fourth part e) fifth part 3. Waiting 4. Breakthrough Attempt 5. Strange Waltz 6. Dialog about Albert Ayler 7. Epilogue

Personnel: Dialogos: Alexey Kruglov (soprano, alto and tenor saxophones, clarinet, basset horn, recorders, melodica and piano) and Vladimir Tarasov (drums and percussion)

Track Listing: Tempo: 1. A Posteriori 12. Intermedia for Bassett Horn #1 3. Sketches 4. Breakthrough 5. Intermedia for Bassett Horn #2 6. Echoes of Dialog 7. Sound Dances 8. Intermedia for Bassett Horn #3 9. In Tempo

Personnel: Tempo: Alexey Kruglov (alto and tenor saxophones and basset horn) Vladimir Tarasov (drums and percussion)