August 31, 2011
Amirani AMNR 025
Metier Jazz mj 0403
Integrating the hyper-distinctive timbres of a bassoon within an improvised setting can be difficult as these ensembles – one Italian and one American – demonstrate. That there are many interesting moments on both discs is a tribute the skills of the players involved in the sessions. However despite similar instrumentation, ElectroAcousticSilence has the edge. With the rhythm section more prominent plus then originality of Taketo Gohara’s sound design, necessary contrasts are more noticeable among the group interaction.
Not that the other CD’s participants aren’t versatile. Daniel Carter for one, who seems to be on half the sessions recorded in downtown New York, is equally proficient on trumpet and tenor saxophone. Someone who has also worked with trumpeter Roy Campbell, Ken Silverman moves among oud, hand percussion and guitar; and bassist Tom Zlabinger, who teaches at York College, CUNY is a fine time-keeper. Bassoonist of Claire de Brunner even studied improvisation with Lee Konitz and Connie Crothers.
The drawback is that the gentle chamber-like essence the four create on the seven selections is often too sonically monochrome and precious. Frequently the contrapuntal set up between Carter’s fleet trumpet obbligatos and the guffaws and burbles from de Brunner’s bassoon produces a kind of freeze-dried linearism. With many of the highs and lows cut off, the pieces are sturdy and legato without many pitch or rhythmic differences among them.
Zlabinger does contribute some bass string slaps throughout; and Silverman’s clanking guitar strums and distinctive oud-string splatters do their bit to break-up the chiaroscuro textures. Yet as one tune meanders into the next, it appears that even the bassist’s throbs are too distant, and the string-player’s asides too brief to perk up the interaction. Tightened guffaws and stutters from de Brunner plus narrowed whines from Carter’s brass or breathy reed slurs suggest unrealized potential that could have been extended. But any climax, let alones stimulation seems to have leaked out of the date. Carter definitely, and most likely the others, sound better in different situations.
Contrary to its title, vitality is exhibited on Flatime’s nine tracks, without eschewing chromatic grace. It isn’t just because of the drones and flutters resulting from Gohara’s signal processing, more up-front drum clatter from Andrea Melani or Filippo Pedol’s sometimes showy electric-bass pops. It’s that in their broken-octave match-ups – paralleling those between de Brunner and Carter – bassoonist Pisani and trumpeter Cosottini exhibit more gusto and punch.
Genova-born Pisani, who experience encompasses orchestral gigs as well as founding GRIM (Musical Improvisation Research Group) with Cosottini and others, utilizes his instrument’s walrus-like snorts and pressures lyrically, rhythmically and comically. On “moreavvio” for instance his tongue flutters keep the proceedings grounded.
Besides GRIM, Florence-based Cosottini, has played with a variety of musicians including alto saxophonist Claudio Lugo and guitarist Elliott Sharp. With all the compositions written by him and the bassoonist, he uses the tunes as vehicles for chameleon-like self-expression. Lyrical obbligatos from Pisani matched with grace note flutters from the brassman may characterize many of the tracks, but on a piece like “letter” – postal or alphabet reference unexplained – Cosottini’s low-key triplets are mated with electronics encompassing wave-form gurgles and sink- draining slurps. On the other hand, the horn harmonies on “respiro” seem formally European: unaccented and processional. As the bassoon and trumpet phlegmatically shade notes and pitches between them, the bass and drums sound martial beats, while electronics color the proceedings with flanges and squeaks.
Consciously or not, “corpo blanco” relates to the Blues, tweaked by Northern Italian sensibilities of course. Irregular drum clatters and thumps, throbbing electronic pulses and wide-bore bassoon honks soon give way to a brass lead, with the climax a variant of trading fours. Pisani’s horn snorts and slurs like a baritone sax and Cosottini spits out heraldic brassiness, as the drummer follows both with backbeats.
On its session, ElectroAcousticSilence validates the hypothesis that a bassoon can make important contributions to improvised music settings. Perhaps the players on Macroscopia – especially de Brunner – can do the same next time out.
Track Listing: Flatime: 1. blue 2. corpo blanco 3. ero uno 4. vox 5. letter 6. moretimex 7. ming’s attempt 8. respiro 9. moreavvio
Personnel: Flatime: Mirio Cosottini (trumpet and flugelhorn); Alessio Pisani (bassoon and contra-bassoon); Filippo Pedol (bass and electric bass); Andrea Melani (drums) and Taketo Gohara (sound design)
Track Listing: Macrscopia: 1. Opening 2. Mysterious Breath 3. Dumbo Twilight 4. Riff Tide 5.
Life Rattle 6. To Move as a Shadow7. Totem Dance
Personnel: Macrscopia: Daniel Carter (tenor saxophone, clarinet and trumpet), Claire de Brunner (bassoon); Ken Silverman (oud, guitar and hand percussion) and Tom Zlabinger (bass)