And George Lewis
ezz-thetics 1010

Continuing their quest for distinctive improvised sounds, the Kiming-Studer-Zimmerlin string trio delineated this musical combination with American trombonist George Lewis. An early convert to the use of synthesized extensions, Lewis’ live electronics means that the five improvisations here unfold in an uncommon fashion, even unlike the trio’s all acoustic meetings with the likes of saxophonist John Butcher.

Familiar with the strictures of academic string configurations as well as the history of contemporary notated music, violinist Harald Kimmig, cellist Alfred Zimmerlin and bassist Daniel Studer usually function in an understated and minimalist fashion. In fact the three middle tracks here are taken up by that sort of interface. Jittery, slow moving and often almost imperceptive, the string textures unroll in a horizontal fashion. Occasionally a melodic upsurge is noted, usually with contrapuntal or unison spiccato lines. Less frequently there’s the suggestion of a double bass thump, high-pitched glissandi from the violin and from all three, especially on “Night Walk”, powerfully expressive sul tasto motifs. Among the trio’s slithering dissonant shakes and shudders, but more distant from the narrative, dissected flutters, trebly snarls or gutbucket-style slurs from the trombonist are heard.

More stimulating and appealing is the four-way intervention expressed on “Very Nice “, the set’s 19-minute first track, and “Tactus And Tatum”, the shorter concluding one. With more musical real estate available, the players stretch to elevated, almost atonal sequences, with the ferocity of 1960s Free Jazz on “Very Nice.”. Up against stropped and splintered jangles and splatters from the strings often yoked together, Lewis lets loose with sympathetic lowing and wide tailgate stutters. Live processing also enables him to project secondary and backing capillary tones, especially when the string players unite for percussive col legno slaps. “Tactus Tatum” is an even tougher and speedier sequence. It’s Lewis canine-like capillary barks which stabilize the string motifs of twangs, sweeps and ratchets. All four surge forward constantly until conjoined equilibrium is achieved.

No vapid horn-and-string disc, instead And George Lewis features four mature and cerebral players equally matched as they operate at the top of their game.

—Ken Waxman

Track Listing: 1. Very Nice 2. Seven Colors and Number Ten 3. Night Walk 4. Natura Morta 5. Tactus And Tatum

Personnel: George Lewis (trombone, live electronics); Harald Kimmig (violin); Alfred Zimmerlin (cello) and Daniel Studer (bass)