Lebik/Edwards/Lovens

January 24, 2023

Lepomis Gibbosus
Fundacja Sluchaj FSR 12/2021

Mitelli/Edwards/Sanders
Three Tsuru Orgami
We Insist! Records CD WEIN 20

Hopefully one unnecessary result of the UK’s ill-advised Brexit won’t be further limitations on musicians crossing borders for gigs. From the beginning of European improvised music, many creative groups have included Continental and UK partnerships. One player who has been part of this exchange over the years has been London bassist John Edwards. These trio sessions, recorded nearly seven years apart, pinpoints his contributions.

Joined by German drummer Paul Lovens who has been part of even more international sessions than Edwards, Lepomis Gibbosus is a four-part session of free improvisation with Polish tenor saxophonist Gerard Lebik. Lebik, who has played with Burkhard Beins, is also involved with sound installations and electronics. Although there are no electronics featured on that disc, they come into play as part of the sonic arsenal of Italian Gabriele Mitelli. On Three Tsuru Orgami. A member of such bands as Pipeline 8 and Nexus, Mitelli, usually a trumpeter, also improvises with soprano saxophone and his voice here. Besides Edwards, fellow Brit Mark Sanders, who is another cross-border participant, adds his drums and objects to the nine tracks.

Divided into four parts that flow seamlessly into one another, Lepomis Gibbosus begins with a hearty double bass strum, cymbal sizzles and saxophone vibrations that use snorts and reflux to inflate to wider textures. As Lebik works up to animalistic cries and split tones squeaks from within his horn’s body tube it’s Lovens’ patterning rim shots and Edwards triple string strumming which keeps the improvisation linear. As the sound manifestation goes through various tempos with understated cymbal pops and pressurized bass string buzzes, the saxophonist’s output evolves from lower case slurs to interludes of melodic invention. This moderato alternating between mainstream exposition and more dissonant vibrations is emphasized by Lebik’s intermittent flattement, but elaborated by disconnected pumps and slaps from the rhythm section. Eventually the drum rumbles and pops and string shakes from the bassist become more distant. Gaining strength in the improvisations’ final minute though, rim slaps and sustained string stops thicken the narrative so that the finale becomes a solid line as the saxophonist lets loose with a defining slur at the end.

Creating distinct sounds from each of his instruments, Mitelli gives the other CD more textural variety. The basic connection among the three instrumental points is most distinctively defined on the two all-electronic tracks. Mixing laptop program starting noises, oscillated crackles and burbles with bell ringing and string shakes, they’re in sharp contrast to the others. More generic to suite evolution are the tunes where perfect balance exists between the bassist’s consistent plucks and brass innovations. As bass thumps steady the sonic evolution, Mitelli displays multiple technique varieties. “New One”, for instance, depends on brassy triplets and bitten off breaths, while “Go Godwit Go” is shaped by half-valve vibrations and a portamento interface. With Sanders’ paradiddles and Edwards string strokes making up in intensity what they lack in volume, mumbled vocalizing on the trumpeter’s part doesn’t detract from the tunes’ horizontal flow. Buoyed by staccato vocal mumbles and muted brass slurs the only ritual projected on the concluding “Ritual Part” is how Edwards’ walking bass seconded by drum thumps, cuts through the triplet flutters and slurs to confirm the tripartite linear flow of the linked pieces.

The sham of Brexit has never lived up to its fake new promises. If the curtailing of future exemplary UK-Continental connections like this are more fallout from its implementation, music will be that much poorer.

–Ken Waxman

Track Listing: Lepomis: 1. A 2. B 3. C 4. D

Personnel: Lepomis: Gerard Lebik (tenor saxophone); John Edwards (bass) and Paul Lovens (drums)

Track Listing: Three: 1. New One 2. The Eagle and the Hawk 3. Go Godwit Go 4. Fly Away To Pierre Combini 5. Karma 6. Three Tsuru Orgami 7. The Indian Geese and Himalaya 8. Green Lake, Black Bird 9. Ritual Part

Personnel: Three: Gabriele Mitelli (trumpet, soprano saxophone, electronics and voice); John Edwards (bass) and Mark Sanders (drums and objects)