Draŝler/Jackson/Thompson

Nauportus
Creative Sources CS 595 CD

Ostensibly an exercise in chamber-improv, the five-part Nauportus is invested with enough affiliated pulsations that fragility is avoided. That’s likely because despite the instrumental choices – clarinet, acoustic guitar and percussion – the members of this mixed British-Slovenian trio are accomplished enough to keep rhythmic accents prominent as they explore the restrained narrative.

From the British side, clarinetist Tom Jackson’s playing is resourceful enough to be featured in aggregations ranging from Ictus and Apartment House to the Cardiff New Music Collective. Guitarist Daniel Thompson has worked with the likes of Adrian Northover, Benedict Taylor and Steve Noble. Meanwhile Bistrica ob Sotli-native Vid Drašler has experience playing with Zlatko Kaučič, Mario Rechtern and rock bands. A recording reunion after a joint Ljubljana residency two years earlier, the trio develops the suite’s sequences with expansive or concise applications.

Throughout, Drašler is a considerate accompanist, rumbling or rattling his drums, while shaking his idiophones so that stresses are divided among comprehensive patterns. Higher profile, Thompson varies his interventions among swift, slurred fingering, hunt-and-peck frails and harsh stabs on diverse areas of his guitar string. Additionally his tone structures are often advanced in a perpendicular fashion to Jackson’s reed strategies. For his part, the clarinetist at different junctures breathes out broken trills, spewing altissimo whistles or highlights sudden dips into the chalumeau register. Each of these ripostes complements or confronts the others’ textures.

The 20-minute “Nauportus 2” displays this partnership at its most expressive, as each player moves individually from the back to the foreground, then retreats again. Fragmenting his strums into spindly plinks, Thompson’s output brackets Jackson’s vibrations that dwindle from full-flavored clarion calls to dissected peeps, as Draŝler’s placid clattering forges another link among the three. Reaching a continuous exposition at mid-point, drum rolls, single-string guitar jabs and trilling reed multiphonics confirm the theme, the players’ techniques and their three-part relationship.

Embodied with significant realized ideas that don’t have to be played loudly or quickly to make a point, together Draŝler/Jackson/Thompson achieve a novel take on chamber-improv.

—Ken Waxman

Track Listing: 1. Nauportus 1 2. Nauportus 2 3. Nauportus 3 4. Nauportus 45. Nauportus 5

Personnel: Tom Jackson (clarinet); Daniel Thompson (acoustic guitar) and Vid Drašler (drums/percussion)