Gianni Mimmo-Daniel Levin

Turbulent Flow
Amirani Records AMRN 032/Teriyaki Records TRK 3

Udo Schindler/Uli Winter/Fredi Pröll


Pilgrims of Sound No #

Harmonizing a reed instrument with a cello can be a dicey proposition since a similarity in timbres can often lead to sonic muddiness, especially when few other instruments are involved. Each of these ensembles has set out to overcome the problem in a unique fashion.

Take Schi.Va for instance. Veteran Munich-based reedist Udo Schindler, who also specializes in solo playing, helps expose a variety of textures by not only inviting Ulrichsberg, Austria-based cellist Uli Winter to participate in this four part-suite, but also welcomes contributions from percussionist Fredi Pröll, another Ulrichsberger. The drummer and cellist have been improvising together for many years two or three times a weeks. As the two halves of a single heartbeat, Schindler thus gets two improvisers who think as one, producing a sympathetic interface with which he can work. Schindler isn’t complacent however. He ups the improvisational ante by adding excursions on cornet to the mix, along with his prowess on his more familiar soprano saxophone and different clarinets.

In contrast to the weighty and cerebral Schi.Va, which appears to have been conceived with an explicit shape despite its improvisational basis, Turbulent Flow is a jocular and sprightly affair as Pavia-native Gianni Mimmo and Brooklyn cellist-Daniel Levin let loose on nine shorter instant compositions. One could chalk it up to a Teutonic verses a Mediterranean temperament, but Mimmo, a cross-disciplinary musical type, and Schindler, who has likewise experimented in different forms choose these particular settings to reflect particular concepts.

Perhaps one clue to the proceedings appears in track titles. Mimmo/Levin’s “Inner Lied”, which matches widening harmonica-like blowing from the reedist with rough stropping from the cellist is more likely related to the German and Dutch word that means “song” than the English and non-grammatical in this context past tense of “lie”.

Other songs on show include pieces such as “Direct Speech” and “Orbit Unknown”. The former manages to display broken-octave motivations without a hint of dissonance. It also maintain lyricism even as Mimmo’s tongue slaps and line extensions plus Levin’s thumb picking and cross pulses expose extended techniques. As for “Orbit Unknown”, despite the Sun Ra-styled title, the piece is more minimalist and, it reaches a climax of horn vibrations from the saxophonist after he begins his solo with capricious impressionism. All the while Mimmo’s staccato flights are grounded by col legno variations from the cellist that include solid rhythmic strokes.

Among the reed puffs and string manipulation on Turbulent Flow is a tensile undercurrent most obvious on the extended title tune. Without softening the message, altissimo reed cries and scrubbed string lines toughen the interface. Finally rasping tremolo cohesion expands into a satisfactory climax as stroked percussiveness from Levin and staccato trills from Mimmo meld decisively.

Architectural – as per Schindler’s day job – rather than pastoral, Schi.Va’s most extended movements are minimalist in the extreme since the key to Pröll’s accompaniment is sonic near invisibility. His perfectly focused beats are so much part of the backdrop, that at points the exposition could be that of a duo rather than a trio. The only time he really comes to the fore is late on “Moment 1”, where an exchange when rims shots abut nasal cornet tones suggest Ede Blackwell’s work with Don Cherry. Earlier on, percussion reticence is the watchword, with clip-clops and the occasional drag only faintly present. Meanwhile Winter’s full-flavored strokes and stops are met by staccato trills from Schindler, with continuous reed growls and triple stopping spiraling into nearly identical, continuous lines. This piece even has jazz-like resonance at the conclusion when a walking beat from the cello accompanies tongue vibrations from the reedist.

Winter’s versatility is put into the aural spotlight on “Movement 4” when in response to resounding percussion clanks and measured, mellow clarinet motions, he shifts from rough stentorian plucks to triple stroked, near romantic sweeps. Soon the narrative rights itself, accelerating into a climatic miasma with every space filled with the sounds of drum sticks pulled along tops and rims, multi-string sprawled sul ponticello and tart spetrofluctuation from Schindler. Eventually string buzzes and splattering bass clarinet yelps and honks unite for a finale that’s obtuse enough to leave this musical construction uncompleted enough for a potential follow up.

—Ken Waxman

Track Listing: Schi: 1. Movement 1 2. Movement 2 3. Movement 3 4. Movement 4

Personnel: Schi: Udo Schindler (soprano saxophone, clarinets and cornet); Uli Winter (cello) and Fredi Pröll (drums and percussion)

Track Listing: Turbulent: 1. Turbulent Flow 2. Mini-festo 3. Sculpted 4. Orbit Unknown 5. Translucent 6. Direct Speech 7. Statement 8. Inner Lied 9. Solenne

Personnel: Turbulent: Gianni Mimmo (soprano saxophone) and Daniel Levin (cello)