Vasco Furtado - Salome Amend - Luise Volkmann

Phonogram Unit PU6 CD


In Search of Surprise

FMR CD 617-0721

Mixing the textures from idiophones and reeds in a series of improvisations can create particular and uncommon results made even more so when the balance between the two shifts in one direction or the other. So it is with Aforismos and the aptly titled In Search of Surprise, which in one way are bizzarro images of one another.

Aforismos’ five track are created by Portuguese drummer Vasco Furtado and Germans, vibraphonist Salome Amend alto saxophonist Luise Volkmann. While Volkmann and Furtado are committed improvisers, playing with the likes of Satoko Fujii and Yedo Gibson, although Wuppertal-based Amend has played with the likes of Peter Brötzmann, most of her work is with New and notated music. The line-up on S.R.L. disc on the other hand joins Krailling-based multi-instrumentalist Udo Schindler, who the years has worked with an orchestra membership list of improvisers, with Aquitaine-based vibraphonist Luc Lainé who is more of a Jazzer, having performed with players like Georges Arvanitas; while French-American multi-reedist Etienne Rolin is a composer and teacher whose improv experience has been with innovators like Joëlle Léandre.

With Rolin’s use of the basset horn and glissotar or modern tarogato plus Schindle’s cornet and saxophones, there’s more horn emphasis during In Search of Surprise’s seven tracks. The three fill the sound spectrum as early as “Open Triangle”, the first and longest track. Melding mid-range reed echoes, including basset horn smears and glissandi with half-valve effects from the cornet, clear ringing tones from the vibraphone add a vibrating ostinato. It’s Lainé metal-bar consistency which preserves the tune’s linear flow as the horn timbres fragment at the half-way point. Corralling irregular squeaks and split tones into a repetitive pattern the piece climaxes with harsh reed bites and vibe variations. Similar strategies are appended to the other tracks at stratified pitches and tempos, as the intersections move through guttural rasps and dissected yelps as the reeds shake and intertwine for theme expansions and contractions. No matter how stretched the expositions become though horizontal development and concordance is maintained. Dual counterpoint stretched themes are cemented via Schindler’s and Rolin’s technical expertise with Lainé carefully positioned mallet plops adding rhythmic decorations.

With both vibes and drums in play on “Aforismos”, equity between tension and release is harder. What happens is that Volkmann as the single horn player creates a bright and flighty reed tone with percussion follow-up. Volkmann’s reed default is often to Dancing in Your Head-era Ornette Coleman with a touch of Klezmer-like refractions. While the alto saxophone make up sometime means that his contributions may result is high-pitched squeals of seeming off-key tongue slapping, the end result not only fits with the idiophones’ expression but establishes a reed identity. Ensuring the rhythmic patterns are linear and reflective whether upfront or distant, the trio designs its particular interface at the greatest length on “Mechanismus” and especially on the more than 27½ minute “Intuitions”. Dedicated to the metal saxophone’s tonal similarities to elongated cymbal scratches plus mallet movement and variations from the vibraphone, “Mechanismus” narrative includes particular rubato interludes. Individualism is eventually achieved as metal fatigue echoes meld with in-and-out reed breaths. An Ur-percussive program, “Intuitions” makes the most of drum thumps and nerve beats and vibraphone plops and vibrations. In the midst of these speedy cascades, Volkmann digs out a space for herself with stressed flutters and cries. A quite interlude of reed tongue popping complements restrained drum rattles at midpoint, is revved up as both idiophones reach maximum power. Once a polyrhythmic sequence of clatter, clanks, rattles and metal pulsations is established, the three regroup. The final section manipulates moderated reed puffs, music box-like clips from Amend and drum paradiddles into a near swing groove.

Whether its reeds or idiophones that predominate, these trios prove that the key to memorable sessions is creating true equivalence so that the sound of surprise can be heard.

—Ken Waxman

Track Listing: Search: 1. Open Triangle 2. Aerial Exchange 3. Specific Metallic 4. Metal Overtones 5. In Search Of Surprise 6. Very Muted Bari 7. Quasi

Personnel: Search: Udo Schindler (cornet, soprano and baritone saxophones); Etienne Rolin (basset horn, glissotar) and Luc Lainé (vibraphone)

Track Listing: Aforismos: 1. Folk Song 2. Mechanismus 3. Intuitions 4. Luft Und Boden 5. Long Way Home-

Personnel: Aforismos: Luis Volkmann (alto saxophone); Salome Amend (vibraphone) and Vasco Furtado (drums)