Simon Rose/Stefan Schultze

The Ten Thousand Things
Red Toucan # RT 9350

By Ken Waxman

Joining forces to extract as many undiscovered textures from their instruments as humanly possible, British alto and baritone saxophonist Simon Rose and German prepared piano specialist Stefan Schultze come across less like mad scientists and more like dedicated epistemologists. Like researchers confronted with unexpected byproducts from their experiments, they assiduously dissect the results for further trials. And like the Lone Ranger and Tonto riding in tandem, for every extended technique exposed by Rose from tongue slapping to atonal smears, Schultze has an appropriate response or goad, plucking stopping, pushing and sliding along his strings, and with implements such as bowls, bells and mashers vibrating atop them.

A track like Magua for instance starts with gargantuan baritone sax textures exposed via bone-dry multiphonics; soon pleasantly liquefying to a jerky slap-tongue rhythm to affiliate with bell-like clangs from the piano’s speaking length. Or consider Schultze’s ring-modulator-like reverberations which bring out the mellow underpinning of Rose’s back-and-forth snuffling on “Bird Sommersaults”. Additionally, harpsichord-like string stopping gets a tougher interface that vibrate the soundboard strings when sympathetically matched with low-pitched reed vibrations on “Unstabled”. Rose’s split tones allow him to play reed strategies that are simultaneously mellow and rickety or skyscraper high and copper mine low at the same time; while Schultze’s strategies create equivalent concurrent textures inside and outside the piano. “Leviathan Blues” is a fine demonstration of this. The pianist’s stretching the strings while percussively key slapping creates a rhythmic backbeat which expands to meet the saxophonist’s theme variation that likewise widen and become more dissonant as Rose plays. Altissimo reed agitation brings out equivalent kinetic key pummeling, until a simple pedal-push counter-theme calms the woodwind cyclone enough to move Rose to singular honks that finally meld with solidifying key vibrations.

By the time the last note sounds at the end of this CD’s 14th and final track, if the two haven’t exposed the sound textures from 10,000 things they’re certainly come close to doing so.

—For The Whole Note February 2016