Marco Colonna / Dario Miranda / Fabrizio Spera

October 28, 2021


Fundacja Sluchaj FSR 09/2021

Silke Eberhard Trio

Being the Up and Down

Intakt 365


Mubi & Elsewhere

Sporeprint 2012-11

While the woodwind-bass-drums combo has been a common Jazz configuration for three-quarters of a century, it still holds risks for the participants, especially the reeds players. Without chordal instruments or a front line partner, responsibility for tone and texture is usually shaped by that person. At the same time relegating the bassist and drummer to merely accompany reed expression unbalances the program turning what should be a trialogue into a solo showcase.

Luckily the sessions here avoid those drawbacks. Expressive in larger groups with stylists like Nikolaus Neuseror, Berlin-based alto saxophonist Silke Eberhard reactivates her decade old trio in a live setting with Being the Up and Down. Although its title refers to only two directions, the group aims for many parts of the musical spectrum. Her associates, bassist Jan Roder and drummer Kay Lübke have worked in numerous other groups featuring Rudi Mahall and others. Still having composed all nine tracks, Eberhard view is dominant. The bassist does take a stretched and vibrated solo within the languid them development of “Hymne”, while the drummer regularizes the lope of “Von A Nach B” with spritely ruffs and cymbal shakes as the narrative moves up the scale.

Harmonized or dissonant the trio works through a program with standard or FreeBop elements including forays into harder avant-garde invention. The saxophonist’s irregular vibrations and altissimo cries sometimes take on Aylerian inferences. Yet when she throws in song quotes, piles notes on top of one another and slides among silences as on “Strudel” the end result is like hearing an updated Ornette Coleman trio with Charlie Haden and Ed Blackwell. Variants of the strategy are played out throughout with a decisive elaboration on the penultimate “Stray Around”. Breaking the initial mellow exposition into expressive sharps and slurs, Eberhard’s theme variations remain horizontal due to unperturbed bass slides and drum ruffs and rebound. Trading fours at the end confirm the modern traditionalism of the set and the trio.

Moving south to Rome, the N-EST repels any sameness that might affect the trio form by emphasizing Marco Colonna’s ambidextrous horn playing. During the 11 selections, all but one his compositions, Colonna, who has worked with Zlatko Kaučič plays clarinet, bass clarinet, alto saxophone and flute. Aptly accustoming themselves to these timbral shifts are bassist Dario Miranda, who was part of Swedish Mobilia and drummer Fabrizio Spera the sparkplug of Roots Magic. Reversing himself from the backbeat/Blues directed Roots Magic, the drummer maintains a rolling pulse, but understates his presence with broken crackles, rolling paradiddles and bright pacing. In contrast most of the tunes are guided by echoing double bass string plucks. Often, as on “Taiki” unique trio definition rests on the divergence between Colonna’s bright flute vibrations and Miranda’s thickening string strokes. Transverse horizontal pacing is one instrumental strategy. Another, emphasized on “Galso” and “Elm”, uses two clarinet registers to chronicle different concerns. On the first slurping clarion split tones stretch to internal breaths matched with a walking bass line, while on “Elm”, it’s drum shakes which break up the exposition projected by chalumeau register clarinet puffs and chunky bass string vibrations. Perhaps not surprisingly it’s alto saxophone riffs which create the most jazz-like incursions. “Prunus” to take one instance, features emotional scoops and a searing lead line from Colonna to break up Miranda’s unhurried bass introduction into an exposition of speedier slides. Then when joined by Spera’s ruffs and rolls, the three complete the narrative as a bouncy, swing tune.

Returning to Germany, Weisbaden to be exact, Mubi & Elsewhere’s free improvisers, drummer Jörg Fischer, bassist Georg Wolf and tenor saxophonist Matthias Schubert, play in the most common reed trio configuration. The bassist and drummer often work together in bands with Uwe Oberg among others, while the saxophonist joins innovators like Simon Nabatov. Exhibiting and expanding extended techniques the three produce variations and diversions from straight-ahead pulsing. But, usually because of Wolf’s application of tonal fluidity, horizontal continuum is maintained even as twists and turns through unexpected arco and pizzicato ruses are heard. A perfect example of how the trio operates is “Foam”. As the bassist stretches the low-pitched theme to nearly limitless echoes, the saxophonist creates thinner and thinner squeals encompassing flattement and tongued doits. The seesawing tone may be concentrated in the others’ expositions, but the drummer uses hand smacks, cymbal beats and positioned drum rumbles to drag the narrative to a speedier pulse that is quickly taken up by Wolf and Schubert. Finally the improvisation is summed up by rugged reed blows and slurps balanced on undulating rhythm textures. On the other hand some tracks such as “The Shwims” are extended to the point that multiple sequences can be defined. More moderated and tonal than some of the other tunes, drum rolls, percussion pings and a walking bass line link that section to the song form. However, pile-driver drum clatter and squeaking split tone from the saxophonist at the half-way point add to the narrative flow until a rim shot signaled quiet interlude opens up the program so that Schubert can similarly free horn lines. Creating an assembly line of snarls, bites, vibrations and split tones, seemingly without pausing for breath, he exposes a collection of notes, vibrations and their affiliated partials, finally harmonizing squeaky altissimo runs with Wolf’s plucks and Fischer’s rolls and ruffs. More repetitive phrase making is expressed elsewhere as on “Flupp Plus”. But the same inventory of drum top rolls and bell clips, double bass stops and pushes resolves and connects the reed tones that becomes a calculating narrative by the finale.

Woodwind-bass-drums trios are favored for a reason. These albums show their desirable versatility.

–Ken Waxman

Track Listing: Being: 1. U11 2. Strudel 3. Von A Nach B 4. Laika’s Descent 5. Hymne 6.

Zeitlupenbossa 7. Damenschrank 8. Stray Around 9.Yuki Neko

Personnel: Being: Silke Eberhard (alto saxophone and bass clarinet); Jan Roder (bass) and Kay Lübke (drums)

Track Listing: N-EST: 1. Zamia 2. Aspen 3. Yucca 4. Taiki 5. Blues for Aida 6. Prunus 7. Naoli 8. Galso 9. Soma 10. Elm 11. Dara

Personnel: N-EST: Marco Colonna (clarinet, bass clarinet, alto saxophone and flute); Dario Miranda (bass) and Fabrizio Spera (drums)

Track Listing: Mubi: 1. Flupp 2. Foam 3. Flupp Plus 4.The Smell 5. The Shwims 6. Wash B 7. Promenade-

Personnel: Mubi: Matthias Schubert (tenor saxophone); Georg Wolf (bass) and Jörg Fischer (drums)