May 12, 2018
Fundacja Sluchaj FSR 08
Agustí Fernández, Artur Majewski, Rafał Mazur
NotTwo MW 957-2
Although broad-minded in his choice of playing partners, Catalan pianist Agustí Fernández has most often recorded in a trio context, a format he’s comfortable with and which yields dividends when each side of the musical triangle is symmetrical. This is substantiated on the two discs here, recorded about five months apart in cities distant from one another and with different pairs of associates.
Spontaneous Soundscapes features five improvisations recorded in Krakow, where the pianist worked with acoustic bass guitar Rafał Mazur, who has played with Fernández in the past along with a clutch of European and North American players; and the bassist’s associate,
cornetist Artur Majewski, formerly part of the Mikrokolektyw duo. Closer to home in Salamanca, Spain, Plays Bernoulli – named for the chronicler of fluid dynamics – features other Iberians with whom the pianist often plays: Lisbon-based saxophonist Albert Cirera, who works with the likes of Hernani Faustino and Gabriel Ferrandini, plus local drummer Ramon Prats.
Minimalist, cerebral and subtly indirect in conception, the interconnected tracks on Spontaneous Soundscapes slow down and speed up according to the amount of keyboard torque or languid string action exhibited by the pianist, principally when coupled with brass blubbers or peeps from the cornet extended by electronic echo. The glue that holds the others ascents from rupturing the triangular form is Mazur’s bass playing with patterns that are unobtrusive but firm. How tension and harmony are expressed in equal measures is discernible in “Soundscape 4” and “Soundscape 5”. While both depend on Fernández’s piano string plucks and scratches, Majewski’s capillary creaks and crackles dominate the first track. With the bassist’s finger popping figuratively completing the others’ musical thoughts, the cornet fluttering grace notes soon become wispier and paler as “Soundscape 5” evolves. Eventually the others’ output evolves alongside piano-string scrapes and twangs, until each separately fades away. The extended “Soundscape 3” is the climatic showcase however. Here triple vibrations blend into a long unbroken line of musical story telling. Chiming piano keys plus repeated inner-piano thumping join with half-valve brass echoes and intermittent plunger tones to swell harmonically, and then fade, demonstrating that each instrument’s dynamic range has been tested and extended.
Cirera’s soprano saxophone elaborations on Plays Bernoulli are usually as restrained as Majewski’s on the other CD. But when he brings out his tenor saxophone on “Rufián” dynamic kinetics, like swallowing a mouthful of hot peppers, are created. With the extended tracks which precede and follow it the equivalent of refined meal fare, the reed upsurge contrasts markedly and decisively. Cirera’s reed cadenzas and honks bring out sympathetic rolling pops and slaps from Prats’ drum kit, while Fernández races mercurially along and between the keys. However the contemplative moods expressed on the other tunes brings out more contemplative narratives, gentler and more measured. Focused keyboard rumbles, string vibrations and equivalent reed flutter tonguing and whistles plus percussion clatters maintain the themes, especially on “Los pasitos”, which despite the odd tremor, becomes a relaxed finale,.
Liquid Trio’s fluidly energetic showpiece is the almost half-hour, introductory “Taleia”. Featuring high-frequency patterning and bell-like clangs all over the keyboard, Fernández confronts Cirera’s slurping sax tones which wriggle with irregular vibrations while puffing out distinctive trills. Moving from single-note emphasis to zither-like stroking of the inner piano harp, Fernández soon mutes reed retches and roisters as Prats’ voluble rhythms alternately accompany first one than the other soloist. When the percussive dynamics inflate, rhythmic keyboard patterning coupled with plucks on the internal strings matches the kinetics of the saxophonist’s tongue flutters so that both unwind as the climax.
Individual instrumentation and conception doesn’t faze Fernández when constructing these trio sets. Both exist on the same high musical level.
Track Listing: Spontaneous: 1. Soundscape 1 2. Soundscape 2 3. Soundscape 3 4. Soundscape 4 5. Soundscape 5
Personnel: Spontaneous: Artur Majewski (cornet and echo); Agustí Fernández (piano) and Rafał Mazur (acoustic bass guitar)
Track Listing: Plays: 1. Taleia 2. Rufián 3. Los pasitos
Personnel: Plays: Albert Cirera (tenor and soprano saxophones); Agustí Fernández (piano) and Ramon Prats (drums)