Anna Kaluza/Artur Majewski/Rafal Mazur/Kuba Suchar

Tone Hunting
Clean Feed CF 285 CD

No borders EU Improv, this high-quality disc results from the integration of a German saxophonist`s compositional ideas with the versatile skills of three Polish players. Such are the shifting parameters of contemporary group organizations however that you could also describe the five tracks on Tone Hunting as the new music resulting from when a committed bass guitarist plus a reedist join an established duo to create a sophisticated foursome.

Berlin-based alto saxophonist Anna Kaluza, who was also a member of the London Improvisers Orchestra, brings five musical ideas to this disc which she elaborates alongside Rafal Mazur, who has subverted bass guitar tones for improv. They join the already established duo of brass man Artur Majewski and percussionist Kuba Suchar who usually perform as Mikrokolektyw.

Cognizant of one another’s techniques, the four easily function as a unit. Precision is a watchword, since each of tunes here calls for chromatic elaboration from one horn while the other provides rococo variations. The most obvious instances of this architectural organization are “Track 1” and “Track 4”. On both the multiphonics advanced by strained brass notes or tremolo reed lines are supple enough to be exploratory, but not so dissonant as to later intersect with the others’ contributions. Selective organization decides which horn part should be exploratory and which should be decorative so that the theme is always defined cleanly Meanwhile Suchar’s rhythms that range from distant nerve beats to Bop-like pumps keep the soloists grounded.

Double counterpoint which links growling brass grace notes and mercurial reed glissandi allows other tunes to attain FreeBop coherence. Meanwhile the final intersection of muted trumpet and kalimba-like vibrations that usually defines the standard Mikrokolektyw magnetism is given a unique jolt when Kaluza’s alto sax comments on the duo’s processes.

If one would have to choose though, it appears that the best defined instance of Tone Hunting cohesion occurs on “Track 3”. Building up from cornet mouthpiece kisses, saxophone tongue slaps and squeaks and string strums, plus carefully weighted percussion shakes, four-sided intersection allows the resulting creation to stretch without fissure. Peaking with exhilarating climax that isolates weighty New Thing cymbal color and little instrument rhythmic surprises, plus using Don Ayler-like brass slurs as continuum, enough space remains so that Mazur has a showcase for his string slides and rubber-band-like rhythmic vibrations.

Having attained ESP-like coherence and intimacy on this Wroclaw-recorded CD, we can hope that this is meekly the first of many discs from the quartet.

—Ken Waxman

Track Listing: 1. Track 1 2. Track 2 3. Track 3 4. Track 4 5. Track 5

Personnel: Artur Majewski (trumpet and cornet); Anna Kaluza (alto saxophone); Rafal Mazur (acoustic bass guitar) and Kuba Suchar (drums, percussion, kalimba and megaphone)