KLM Trio

November 22, 2023

Parallel Records PR0 19

Tancède D. Kummer
Boomslang Records No #

Two French trio sessions built around vibraphones are determined to express swing and improvisations in a quiet and understated fashion. Blending vibe tones with those from particular other instruments, contrasting programs is the result. Yet there are points both sessions drift uncomfortably close – sometimes uncomfortably close – to sweetness and delicacy. Forges includes two musicians from Montpelier, pianist Remi Ploton and vibist Samuel Mastorakis as well as percussionist Tancède D. Kummer who has moved from that city to Amsterdam. With Kummer, who sometimes plays with Jean Rondeau, composing most of the tracks, the idea is to create free-flowing sounds that are as aleatoric as they are anagogic, giving the players interpretative freedom, but not at the expense of linear motion. Slightly older, the members of KLM, who have moved among contemporary notated, Jazz and World Music, aim for a mixture of sonorities that gracefully express multiple sonorities without overemphasizing individual practices. Vibraphonist Philippe Macé has worked with Andy Emler and Pierre Boulez; trumpeter/flugelhornist Yoann Loustalot has recorded with Aldo Romano; and bassist Stéphane Kerecki with John Taylor. Providence’s compositions are divided among the three, but a unity of expression remains on the nine tracks.

Forges’ sonic geometry is such that the trio members try to avoid expected musical tropes or textures. Without a bass player comparisons to Modern Jazz Quartet-like ensembles don’t exist either. Instead many of the 10 tracks work on some variation of harpsichord-like vibe tones trembling often delicately alongside measured piano chording that open up the exposition. Quiet and reflective interface is most prevalent with moderated keyboard tinkles, cymbal claps and reflective vibe rebounds. However these are prominent so often that sameness is only avoided by a hair’s breadth. Some tunes that move at a funeral pace threaten to cross that line. On a few instances such as “Gla” and “Débris III” the tempo becomes faster and more violent or in the case of the second, a group improv, architecture stretches to add pops, rebounds and odd squibs from Kummer’s manipulation of toys. However Mastorakis’ bow-on-metal bar expression is used so sparingly its nearly inaudible. “Jeu” is the most fully realized piece as the vibraphone carries the melody into story-telling mode, as piano key pressure meets wood block smacks and drum ruffs to open up the exposition.. Even as the narrative doubles in speed, percussion pressure and echoing vibe pops still reflect the basic delicacy of the program. This is confirmed on “Jeu (postlude)”, several tracks later, as piano key tinkles and percussion plops reassert quietness and delicacy.

If the members of Forges find themselves rotating in and out of hushed and sugared themes, then the KLM Trio has to tread carefully so as to not wallow in them. Part of this challenge relates to the instrumentation. No matter how he angles his tone, the muted colors and portamento slides of the flugelhorn always seem to drag Loustalot’s playing towards the understated. This is understandable when the aim is a rainbow of expressive tone colors. But with the affiliated harmonies from mallets on aluminum’s gentle sustain and meditative bass thumps join, cloying sweetness frequently threatens. Luckily responsive pivots are usually more towards the lyrical than the lachrymose. Themes such as “Ground In C” that ascend to ascend to allegro and staccato tempos, with measured bass stops and more powerful vibe plops keep Baroque-like brass ripples in check. Similarly consistent string thumps and reverberating vibraphone slaps on “Providence” so link fluttering brass grace notes to consistency that a layered horizontal rhythm is eventually attained. The most notable mix of layered timbres and linear story telling occurs on “Suspended Time”. As the exposition widens, a kaleidoscopic expression of a capella vibe resonance is heard, while burnished brass ripples slow down the tune. But it maintains its linear motion without allowing a note to fall out of place.

Notable in attaining its limited goals, there would be more providence in Providence if the trio members had been freer in tempo, pitch and rhythm. Forges’ idea to forge new paths is admirable as well. But more instrumental color and in parts a snappier pace would have made that accomplished session so much better.

–Ken Waxman

Track Listing: Forges: 1. George Best Bar 2. Anafauna 3. Jeu 4. Débris I 5. Gla 6. George Best Bar (rerose) 7. Débris II 8. Jeu (postlude) 9. Débris III 10. Ymbow

Personnel: Forges: Remi Ploton (piano); Samuel Mastorakis (vibraphones, bows and small objects) and Tancrède D. Kummer (drums, percussions and toys)

Track Listing: Providence: 1. Écueil 2. Are You Ready For Next Pandemic 3. The Booster 4. Suspended Time 5. Providence 6. Mer d’huile 7. Ground In C 8. Luminescence 9. The Marmot’s Wonderful Dream

Personnel: Providence: Yoann Loustalot (trumpet and flugelhorn); Philippe Macé (vibraphone) and Stéphane Kerecki (bass)