SWQ

Ramble
Leo Records CD LR 738

Known for pricier substances Switzerland may also be exporting harsh minimalism overseas if Ramble is any indication. This is n a session that could be sub-titled bassoon meets Brooklyn. Like the army recruit whose presence is the final additional element that helps mold other newcomers into a crack fighting unit, Zürich-based alto saxophonist and bassoonist Sandra Weiss contributes a startling, connective roughness to the five group improvisations.

Speckling the tracks with congested sour gusts from her instruments, the South African-born, Swiss resident puts a finer point on the gashing micro-tonality explored by the quartet of Brooklynites she joins here. The equivalent of expanding short stories to novella length with different imagery, Weiss’ jagged textures enlarge strategies drummer Carlo Costa has been exploring with bands he’s part of that also include bassist Sean Ali and tenor and soprano saxophonist Jonathan Moritz. Trumpeter Kenny Warren, who has worked in experimental setting with saxophonist Rob Brown, fills out the ensemble

Not unlike conceptual artists that use everyday objects in unexpected ways, the five dispense with the routine sounds from their instruments to search for deeper, though more abstruse textures. Brass blowing comes from deep within the horn as the bell vibrates next to metallic objects; scrapes and resonations, rather than steady beats cross pulse from the percussion; and Weiss and Moritz pierce the shifting wall of sound with whines, squeals, buzzes and inner-directed breaths. Only Ali pushes out enough vibrating throbs to form an ostinato that keeps the improvised parts from scattering into shards that can’t be reattached.

The concluding “Ramble On”, includes trumpet plunger tones, echoing string set tautness and cymbal stings that bring to art works that include magazine photos pasted on the canvas to confirm realism. Yet the harsh bassoon smears which appear to be pulled into rather than sliding out of the instrument, interlace with in suggesting continuation as well as termination, However the quintet has already made its major statement with the three-part, more-than-22½-minute “Transition Suite”. Sequentially the composition moves slowly forward from a savannah-like landscape of flat-line tones in the first two sections, infrequently broken up by aviary brass beeps, strangled or shrilling reed cries and shuffling glass and belfry-reverberating plonks. Finally the disparate motifs amalgamate for the climatic “Transition Suite – Dispersion”. As air-piercing trumpeting and renal-sourced reed squeezes are sewn together into an ectoplasmic yet connected landscape, these timbres are an augury of the finale as timbres and techniques are ordered into an individualized conclusion.

It may take international diplomacy but the gratifying voyage – or ramble – taken by the ad-hoc SWQ should be repeated.

—Ken Waxman

Track Listing: 1. Water in Tubes 2. Transition Suite - Diffusion 3. Transition Suite - Scattering 4. Transition Suite - Dispersion 5. Ramble On

Personnel: Kenny Warren (trumpet); Jonathan Moritz (soprano and tenor saxophones); Sandra Weiss (alto saxophone and bassoon); Sean Ali (bass) and Carlo Costa (drums)