Selon le vent
JACC Records 035 CD


Strings 3

Leo Records CD LR 859

Butt of many musicians’ jokes – especially among violinists – the viola’s mid-range string qualities make it a fine vehicle for improvisation. At the same time, as these viola-featuring trio-ish sessions prove, the mid-size string set can be used in different, sometimes contradictory fashions.

Pareidolia which concentrates on minimalist mesmerizing textures during the two selections on Selon le vent is called trio-ish because Uruguayan bassist Alvaro Rosso, who also works with the likes of violinist Carlos “Zingaro”, joins the official trio on one track. The rest of the band features Portuguese violist João Camões, who divides his time between his native country and France and who has worked with “Zingaro” and Jean-Marc Foussat, and not surprisingly, two French-born improvisers: Freiburg-based pianist Yves Arques and saxophonist/clarinetist Gabriel Lemaire. Working from that point where Free Jazz often extends into the sonic stratosphere Strings 3 is American violist Mat Maneri, known for his work with Matthew Ship among others, alongside Brazilian tenor saxophonist Ivo Perelman and Brooklyn-based trumpeter Nate Wooley, who between themselves have worked with most of the major participants in exploratory music.

Shallow keyboard echoes brush up against an overblowing reed ostinato and intense stretched and double-stroked viola strings during Pareidolia’s trio track, leading to simultaneous narrowed and polyphonic exchanges. As the underlining wood-raps and harp-like pealing from Arques preserve the melodic content, nearly identical ghostly echoes from the other two instruments preserve the narrative’s free-from challenges. Adding Rosso on the slightly longer “Herzkino” doesn’t alter the program that much, except that he adds a secondary slower pulse to Camões’ flying spiccato as the piece evolves. As the strings unite still further to create a surging duo, this twosome serves as counterpoint to another duo consisting of Lemaire’s splintered alto split tones and percussive keyboard comping from Arques. This moderato interlude actually presages the track’s surprising final minutes when the pianist and bassist switch gears to replicate an almost perfect Jazz club-like slow burn that is completed by adding mid-range viola shuffles and a definitive slurping reed ending.

Jazz of the freest variety is what drives the 11 iterations of Strings 3 with Maneri’s scratching, splintering and multi-stroking strategy asserting itself from the disc’s beginning alongside Perelman’s choked reed slurs and Wooley’s whinnying cries. Cumulative polyphony that’s one part animal-in-pain saxophone squeals, one part moderato capillary spills and one part sul ponticello rosin-expelling reaches a transitional point with “Strings 3 Part 3” and “Strings 3 Part 4”. On the two, expressive horn lines at the highest pitches underlined by a melodic and chromatic viola interface give way to tripartite harmonizing, with Maneri, almost reaching Klezmer-like patterning, meeting dual counterpoint from Perelman and Wooley. Half expected and half exploratory, the program continues along these lines with the saxophonist moving from comforting near-mainstream breaths to layers of above-altissimo screams; the trumpeter showcases muted story-telling and bellicose growls; and the violist transforming his interplay from pointed shaky strokes to cumulative harmonies. With the three sometimes producing sound outbursts that can’t be linked to individual instruments, the wobbly, improvisational narratives continue to the end.

Mercurial and muscular the trio’s creations prove that a lack of percussive instruments yet with a viola as equal partner can still create a program that as intense and ecstatic as any percussive Free Form explosion. Meanwhile Pareidolia, with almost the same instrumentation, shows that equally inventive, string-oriented music can be expressed in a less frenetic fashion.

—Ken Waxman

Track Listing: Selon: 1. Himmelskino 2. Herzkino*

Personnel: Selon: Gabriel Lemaire (alto and baritone saxophones, alto clarinet); João Camões (viola); Yves Arques (piano) and Alvaro Rosso (bass)*

Track Listing: Strings: 1. Strings 3 Part 1 2. Strings 3 Part 2 3. Strings 3 Part 3 4. Strings 3 Part 4 5. Strings 3 Part 5 6. Strings 3 Part 6 7. Strings 3 Part 7 8. Strings 3 Part 8 9. Strings 3 Part 9 10. Strings 3 Part 10 11. Strings 3 Part 11

Personnel: Strings: Nate Wooley (trumpet); Ivo Perelman (tenor saxophone) and Mat Maneri (viola)