June 5, 2024

Creative Sources CS 779 CD

A collaboration that in a way is a passing of the mantle, this disc mates two strains of improvised music: Free Jazz and Free Improv. One of its European progenitors, German pianist Alexander von Schlippenbach, 86, and fellow Teutonic drummer Willi Kellers, 73, represent Free Jazz, while Portuguese players violinist Ernesto Rodrigues, 64, cellist Guilherme Rodrigues, 36 and alto saxophonist Nuno Torres, 47, focus on Free Music.

While protracted age differences don’t separate either group enough to imply a generational shift, the conundrum that’s resolved during the CD’s nine selections is how precisely committed improvisers create simultaneously. Throughout the sul tasto pauses and reed sighs preferred by the Portuguese players quickly ascend to meet expressive keyboard clanks and drum whumps from the Germans. Concurrently harmonized string patterns curb any turns towards so-called Estatic Jazz excess from the others.

Subsequent tracks open space for drum and saxophone spots, emphasizing flutter tonguing mixed with percussion clanks,  decorated and accompanied by the violin, cello and piano string resonation and sliding harmonies. However focus is mostly on interaction among the two Rodrigues and von Schlippenbach. This can reach a crescendo, mating dynamic prestissimo triple stopping from the strings with dynamic keyboard clangs; or as on “Abtu E Anet” contrast melodic keyboard patterning with the cellist’s pressurized col legno and the violinist’s peak scratches and stops. Tunes like “Nesnás”, also confirm the pianist’s lingering affiliation for Jazz, as the younger Rodrigues creates a walking bass line to match a swinging piano undercurrent that by the finale blends reed tongue slaps and the older Rodrigues’ constant string pressure into an undulating whole.

Hipogrifo”, the more than 12½ minute mid-disc climax, connects diverse strands most effectively. As strained, but moderated string stops contrapuntally respond to the slithery piano theme, further keyboard bounces usher in double bass swipes and subtle cymbal clanks.  While the mewling strings speed past spiccato and drums begin to pound, von Schlippenbach’s relaxed selection of individual notes maintains the exposition until it’s doubled and completed with sax slurs. Redefining the title enigma, the disc actually offers matchless improvisational music, no matter which side of the Free division is preferred.

–Ken Waxman

Track Listing: 1. Kuyata 2. Cila 3. Nesnás 4. Abtu E Anet 5. Hipogrifo 6. Bahamut 7. Tao-T’ieh 8. Borametz 9. Kraken

Personnel: Nuno Torres (alto saxophone); Alexander von Schlippenbach (piano); Ernesto Rodrigues (violin); Guilherme Rodrigues (cello) and Willi Kellers (drums and percussion)