A Set of Music Played on June 17th
Creative Sources CS 318 CD

More like un-cropped images on a contact sheet, then burned and dodged portraits, this eight-track, 33-minute CD is a literal record of an improvisational session between two sound experimenters of divergent backgrounds but shared interests. Raw and reflective at the same time, A Set of Music Played on June 17th substantiates the universality and vitality of improvised music

Wuppertal-born Alexander Frangenheim, 56, in whose Berlin studio the disc was recorded, is a veteran bassist who is involved in multi-media projects and over the years has played with everyone from trumpeter Axel Dörner to pianist Chris Burn. Tel Aviv-native Ariel Shibolet, 44, has like Frangenheim, taught music, organized concerts and worked in different media. The soprano saxophonist has expanded his musical partnership to Europe and the US with the likes of bassist Joëlle Léandre and pianist Scott R. Looney, and this particular set of interactions may be buttressed since he studied cello in his youth.

In fact there are times on the CD when the textures rubbed or blown from the players’ respective instrument are so congruent that it takes a time to distinguish one from another. Even in repose there are some similarities, as on the first track where the saxophonist’s watery cross blowing is mated with the bassist’s loggy pulls. Downtime is relative though, since most of the session is concerned with how many sharpened or jagged textures cam be shaken, spewed, sprawled or shoved from either instrument. Mostly pacing themselves like well-trained contenders in a long-distance race, the crescendo of intensity occurs on “zweistaatenlösung 7”. Here, as if he’s broken free for one event in a marathon, Shibolet’s trilling vibratos rush out in a stream of multiphonics. For his part, like a coach normalizing his charge’s output with proven techniques, Frangenheim mutes the reed explosions with curbed bow swipes and crunching vibrations. While a track such as “zweistaatenlösung 5” expands the tone melding so that it appears as if each partner has reached a staccato limit, this idea of going beyond accepted virtuosity is best expressed on “zweistaatenlösung 4”. As Shibolet emphasizes the metallic qualities of his horn, and Frangeheim concentrates on exploiting his bull fiddle’s wood and catgut elements, an escalation of guillotine-sharp twangs and wounded animal-like yelps emanate from both players. Having demonstrated that like the guitarist in the film Spinal Tap they can take the sound past up to proverbial 11, they shift tactics and with narrower and narrower timbres and briefer and briefer soundings dissolve the duet to a rewarding conclusion.

Functioning memorably in miniature, perhaps the next step is for the bassist and saxophonist to expand their duet at a greater length and perhaps with more partners. That too would be worth hearing.

—Ken Waxman

Track Listing: 1. zweistaatenlösung 1 2. zweistaatenlösung 2 3. zweistaatenlösung 3 4. zweistaatenlösung 4 5. zweistaatenlösung 5 6. zweistaatenlösung 6 7. zweistaatenlösung 7 8. zweistaatenlösung 8

Personnel: Ariel Shibolet (soprano saxophone) and Alexander Frangenheim (bass)