RAN

Five Spontaneous Ones NotTwo MW988-2

Martin Küchen/Rafał Mazur

BAZA

NoBusiness NBLP 118

Sophisticated handling of the acoustic bass guitar within improvised music has thrust Karkow-based Rafał Mazur into the international scene, as his collaborators extend past the borders of Poland. While his lack of competition somehow put him in the same position of Rahsaan Roland Kirk who was the best – and only – manzello and stritch player in modern Jazz, Mazur’s ability to blend the double bass and guitar-like characteristics of his instrument move his playing past oddity to innovation. Plus his intuitive responses to any sonic stimuli add to his skill.

Club dates in Mazur’s hometown recorded one year apart, Five Spontaneous Ones and BAZA have slightly different orientations. The first disc is a true pre-Brexit EU affair with tie bassist joined for an exploratory sound session by Catalan tenor and soprano saxophonist Albert Cirera, who has worked with the likes of Agustí Fernández and Carlos Zingaro and British drummer Nicolas Field, who often plays in the percussion duo ButtercupMetalPolish. On the other hand Baza is yet another meeting between Mazur and veteran Swedish sopranino and alto saxophonist Martin Küchen, who has worked with everyone from Raymond Strid to Keith Rowe. Also prominent in larger combos, this drummer-less duo gives more auditory prominence to the bassist’s sluicing and snapping ripostes to the saxophonist’s explosive anti-melodic attacks.

Setting up the challenge by detonating harsh split tones that whine and cry during the extended “BAZA 1”, which opens the program, Mazur’s flexible sul tasto bowing and plucked spiccato stings easily challenge Küchen’s pitch variations, squeaks and detours into false registers. Suddenly though, midway through the sequence, the saxophonist redefines the parameters as his playing narrows to a slower pace. That doesn’t mean he abandons affiliated partials and unexpected reed screams, but the bassist’s tremolo rebounds head off these mercurial detours and with slurred fingering and thumb pops. Finally Mazur corrals the saxophonist into a headier dialogue between penny whistle-like reed peeps and string frails and fills. Climaxing on “BAZA 3” with Küchen on sopranino moving from florid snarls and flutter tonguing to retching out vocalized yells from the horn’s body tube, these pointed reed bites only retreat into descending multiphonics when the bassist’s calming strums subside.

Not as volatile as Küchen, Cirera’s often sliding and slurring altissimo overblowing doesn’t preclude three-way dialogue with Fields and Mazur on RAN. At the same time, adding extra volume, the bassist introduces more sound distortion and even Rock-like twanging as his responses to the saxophonist’s slap tonguing and mouthpiece oscillation. Meanwhile the drummer’s rolls and ruffs are both assertive and bonding. At the conclusion of “Third”, space is made for a percussion display encompassing rattling rim and side pops at the top and a longer episode of dancing clip-clops and triple popping paradiddles, ruffs and clatters. Separating those showcases are the other players most dissonant extensions. Cirera’s deeper, darker glossolalia splinters with repressed intensity, while Mazur rubs and rattles fasten on with string-shaking pressure. By the concluding “Five”, the three reach another crescendo as percussion bell-tapping, pitch vibratos squeaks from the saxophonist and buzzing string pulls move chromatically into an architecturally connected narrative.

—Ken Waxman

Track Listing: Five: 1. First 2. Second 3. Third 4. Fourth 5. Fifth

Personnel: Five: Albert Cirera (tenor and soprano saxophones); Rafał Mazur (acoustic bass guitar) and Nicolas Field (drums)

Track Listing: Baza: 1. BAZA 1 2, BAZA 1 (CONTINUES) 3. BAZA 2

Personnel: Baza: Martin Küchen (sopranino and alto saxophones) and Rafał Mazur (acoustic bass guitar)