Paula Shocron & Pablo Diaz with Guillermo Gregorio

Fundacja Słucha FSR 09/2019

Rupp/Tom/ Mahall

Rupp/Tom/ Mahall

Barefoot Records BREC 059 LP

More than the substitution of one chordal instrument for another alongside percussion and a clarinet separates these meaningful sessions from one another. Both original and unhampered by conventional considerations, each approaches improvisation in a convincing if disparate fashion. Recorded during a gig at a Berlin performance space, the first disc captures eight free-form elaborations by cosmopolitan players who play in this configuration among all their other commitments. Germans, guitarist Olaf Rupp and clarinetist Rudi Mahall have worked with a variety of players from Peter Brötzmann to Barry Guy, while Danish drummer Kasper Tom works with the likes of Axel Dérner as well as leading his own bands. A meeting of two generations of Argentinean improvisers in an avant-chamber-Jazz environment, Diálogo is appropriately titled. The CD features younger musicians, pianist Paula Shocron and percussionist Pablo Díaz is a first-time collaboration with clarinetist Guillermo Gregorio, who is a long-time US resident, but was a participant in Movimiento Música Mús, which presented multi-media sonic experiments in Argentina during the 1960s and 1970s.

Initially proper as many first meetings are, the three South Americans soon settle into a mutually satisfying structure over the course of 14 tracks. While semi-awkwardness sometimes arrives during a few intermezzos later on, the trio is actively secure on “aria nro.1”, the first track and goes on from there. Within this flowing sequence, which has some resemblance to Jimmy Giuffre’s lower-case experiments, the narrative lockstep is among Gregorio fluid coloratura textures, Shocron’s understated sweeps and Díaz’s tempered clip-clops. This unity continues throughout the CD and culminates with “sounds brewing” as the clarinetist cleanly slides from shrill peeps to low-pitched flutters mated with keyboard swells and a tap-dancer-like clatter from the drummer. During the remainder of the disc, and within the style’s decided parameters, the three experiment with different sorts of tripartite affiliations. For instance “inwood.brooklyn 4 hs” features a horizontal clarinet line which become more dissonant as the piece evolves, with accelerating squeals facing controlled high-frequency keyboard tinkles and riveting drum ruffs, until Gregorio’s blowing expresses more than a tinge of dissonance to meld with piano glissandi. In contrast rolling percussion rubs meet chalumeau reed bites on “perspectiva axonométrica” as wood-rending soundboard echoes characterize Shocron’s playing, until the shifting exposition climaxes as mirrored friction and rattles come from implements juddering on piano strings and drum tops. Arabesque triple tonguing may characterize the clarinet work on “walking down”, yet that cynosure interlude evolves besides high-pitched piano chording and supple nerve beats and slaps from Diaz. As a bonus the trio shows its Jazz roots on “diálogos nro.3” as Shocron’s high-pitched power chording evolves in counterpoint with Diaz’s offbeat percussion concussion and Gregorio’s relaxed blowing.

While Jazz, especially of the freest variety is part of the musical DNA of the trio on the other disc, the three’s fluid improvisations move past any connections to the mainstream to concentrate on virtuosic sound explorations. Locking into a groove as early as the banally titled “Opener” first track, the ecstatic outpouring encompasses jagged string slices and strums from Rupp, a spray of exaggerated slurs from Mahall and constant sinewy slaps and stops from Tom. Climaxing in the tune’s penultimate minutes the guitarist’s buzzing runs and the clarinetist’s crying snorts moderate towards a melodic motif urged on by sensitive beat re-direction from the drummer. From that point on radiance and roughness characterize the collection as moderated trilling vibratos and tempered slurred finger from Rupp are often as prominent as gritty string crunches and overblowing reed split tones. As for Tom, the resonating pressure from his drums doesn’t need speed or volume to follow its functions. Pointillist reed bites first altissimo-pitched and then chalumeau, characterize Mahall’s contribution to “Dirt” , while Rupp’s chording accelerates from folksy to frenetic as he frails and flanges makes the theme staccato as well as smudged, until the guitarist dense finger-picking evolves in broken octaves alongside Tom’s tough pops and the clarinetist’s highest pitched swirls. Concurrently slurred fingering on Rupp’s part make common cause with the split tone extensions and glottal punctuation Mahall brings to “Dangerous Goods”. As the exposition is stretched still further unexpected swallows and surges on the reedist’s part reveal a swarm of multiphonics, although they’re easily balanced by dedicated below-the-bridge string strokes from the guitarist. For a finale Rupp chimes his strings sympathetically as Mahall races up and down the scale in split seconds without losing the thematic shape. “Wald” even finds Tom ending the track with bellicose drum crashes to meet Rupp’s string shuddering and Mahall’s irregular reed vibrations. Yet it’s a fitting climax to the mercurial theme which has been shaken and stirred from the beginning, as contrapuntal elongations result from waves of guitar power-chording, superfast reed trills from within the horn’s body tube and consistent drum pops.

Versatility, virtuosity and of course quality connect these sessions which couldn’t sound more different.

—Ken Waxman

Track Listing: Rupp: 1. Opener 2. Dangerous Goods 3. Drei 4. Vier 5. Wald 6. Dirt 7. Turm 8. Zugabe

Personnel: Rupp: Rudi Mahall (clarinet and bass clarinet); Olaf Rupp (guitar) and Kasper Tom (drums)

Track Listing: Diálogo: 1. aria nro.1 2. micromatismos nro.1 3. walking down 4. aria nro.2 5. diálogos nro.1 6. perspectiva axonométrica 7. diálogos nro.3 8. inwood.brooklyn 4 hs. 9. micromatismos nro.2 10. micromatismos nro.3 11. diálogos nro.4 12. diálogos nro.5 13. miromatismos nro.4 14. sounds brewing

Personnel: Diálogo: Guillermo Gregorio (clarinet); Paula Shocron (piano) and Pablo Díaz (drums)