May 20, 2020
Zlatko Kaučič Quintet
Fundacja Słucha FSR 05/2019
Using the spatial expanse of Šmartno’s ornate St. Martin's Church for additional sonority, Slovenian percussionist Zlatko Kaučič guides a reed-heavy international quintet through 11 instant compositions here. Guides is the proper verb since Kaučič, one of Slovenia’s most prominent improvisers who has worked with everyone from Evan Parker to Joëlle Léandre, makes it a point not to direct the group. Instead, using a collection of self-made and conventional percussion instruments he calls ground sounds, he interjects resonances and textural coloration when needed as the band plays on.
What this also means that Italian bassist Silvia Bolognesi becomes the fulcrum on which these tracks are stabilized. Her string propulsions ensure the sounds moves in a reliably stable direction, even as the improvisation is opened up for distinctive variations from the horn players. The three reedists are Italian clarinetist Marco Colonna; American-in-Amsterdam Michael Moore, playing alto saxophone, and clarinet; and Spanish tenor saxophonist Albert Cirera. Kaučič’s cymbal buzzes, implement rubs and minimal drum slaps coupled with Bolognesi’s thick drones create the parameters for sound exploration on the first track. From then on their presence is felt only through an occasional sul tasto string sweep, or in the case of the unconventional percussionist set up a pressurized yelp or clank from unattached cymbals
Five reeds allows the three players to stud the sequences with such challenging motifs involving jagged sax runs and clarinet twitters (on “Bilke”); honking and mocking vuvuzela-like blasts (on “Svit”); and create a whirlpool of twittering puffs and snorts (on “September”), which are finally resolved by chalumeau register tenor saxophone slurs. With such a similarity in reed timbres, when the horns aren’t pushed to their deconstructive limits, the usual strategy is to have the lower-pitched reeds snort and snore jagged expositions while the higher pitched ones slide and slur runs up the scale from moderato to altissimo. Depending on the circumstances this strategy is expressed in mellow layering or fierce challenges. However the CD’s most notable and most showpiece is “Strehe”. As the reeds’ reverberating bites and barks are slowly augmented through circular breathing, Kaučič’s metal clanks and scratches adds to the disturbance, leaving it to the bassist to meld string twangs and reed twitters to smooth the narrative to a logical end. Having physically reached the church altar as is reflected on the final “Altar”, what remains is for undulating reed lines to moderate the push forward, joining quiet string slaps to reach the relaxed finale.
Perhaps by spatial circumstances the band members are more involved with spiritual challenges and resolution than they initially imagined. Completing the church lesson, the group reaches for the divine without neglecting worldly impulses that consecrate profound musicality.
Track Listing: 1. Koprena 2. Bilke 3. Svit 4. Mlaj 5. Jutrania 6. Arabeska 7. September 8. Delirij 9. Strehe 10. Altar
Personnel: Marco Colonna (clarinet, bass clarinet); Michael Moore (alto saxophone, clarinet); Albert Cirera (tenor saxophone); Silvia Bolognesi (bass) and Zlatko Kaučič (ground sounds)