Schindler-Zwang Eriksson-Tramontana

November 1, 2023

Canto Senza Parole Allegria
FMR CD 6750423

Insomnia Brass Band
Road Works
Tiger Moon Records TMR 011

Two German trio sessions featuring reeds, brass and percussion would seem to have similar attributes, but reality complicates matters. A concert of uncompromising free music, Canto Senza Parole Allegria features three masters of that craft: Germans Udo Schindler, playing tenor and bass saxophones, and cornetist and percussionist Eric Zwang Eriksson, who have worked together before, and Munich-based Italian trombonist Sebi Tramontana, who has also played frequently with Schindler plus numerous international improvisers. Conversely, the Berlin-based Insomnia Brass Band lives up to its name putting a POMO spin on that tradition. It consists of drummer Christian Marien, who has worked with the likes of Eve Risser; baritone saxophonist Almut Schlichting, a member of Subsystem and Bauhauskapellentraum; and trombonist Anke Lucks, part of Matthias Muche’s all-trombone Bonecrusher ensemble.

Taking advantage of the textures available from Schindler’s three horns, the blustery slides, guttural snores, muted plunger tones and body tube vocalization of Tramontana’s brass stack up against the contrapuntal reed squeaks, drones and tongue slaps of Schindler’s saxophone or intertwine with whinnies and flutters from the latter’s cornet. Zwang Eriksson-stays mostly in the background, with the occasional press rolls, rim shots and cymbal vibrations heard along with inconsistent beats and encouraged vocal yells. Schindler’s reed strategy can be as outside as propelling whole passages through his saxophones with no key motions or vaulting tongue slaps and stuttering split tones to immediately from basement vibrations up to altissimo squalls. None of this is done is isolation, and on the crucial middle tracks “CantoSenzaParole #4” and “CantoSenzaParole #5” after earlier challenging the trombonist’s Harmon mute wah wahs and buzzing coughs with watery smears, Schindler brings out his cornet, trading subterranean scoops for bitten-off triplets, creating linear phrasing to evolve alongside Tramontana’s tailgate slurs and slide whistle-like peeps. The extended “CantoSenzaParole #5” is the disc’s true climax. When the trombonist’s mumbles, whistles and coughs transform into fundamental portamento vibrations and saxophone split tone blasts and oinks are replaced by a steadying bagpipe-like drone, stretched timbres are joined as solid melodicism for a conclusion that’s convivial and clear-sighted.

Reflecting the parade ground rather than the concert hall, the Insomnia Brass Band’s lucky 13 tracks are designed to find the mid ground between these purported locations. To do so the horns’ snorts, sniffs and regularized horizontal motion is frequently tempered by asides more common in creative than brass band sounds. Marien, who is also a time keeper for local big bands mostly sticks to that role. However on rare tracks like “Sykesykesyke” and “Super Constellation” his steadying backbeat is replaced by percussion coloration involving rim shots and cow bell pops on the former and double paradiddles and cymbal clangs on the later. Additionally those these motifs still intersect with plunger trombone puffs and slithering reed vibrations. Meanwhile Lucks and Schlichting break up expected marching band precision with contrapuntal asides and interludes which reconfigure the ensemble’s comfort zone away from rickety tick on to toughness. On “(Speeding Through The) Cabbage Fields” for instance, reed honks and smears are allied with brass whinnies and blasts or on “Wood For Wacky” elongated trombone plunger tones and reed slurps dislocate the underlying beat to reconfigure the exposition that replicates the head as it establishes a new identity. Splaying regularized swing is emphasized over rhythm and atmosphere over repetition. Some tunes even show how quiet an aggregation like this trio can be even as the basic pumping groove is established.

Obviously aimed at two separate audiences these Teutonic trios demonstrate how well – and how differently – sounds can be projected with honest forethought and skill.

–Ken Waxman

Track Listing: Canto: 1. CantoSenzaParole #2 2. CantoSenzaParole #1 3. CantoSenzaParole #3 4. CantoSenzaParole #4 5. CantoSenzaParole #5 6. CantoSenzaParole 7. Encore

Personnel: Canto: Sebi Tramontana (trombone and voice) Udo Schindler (tenor and bass saxophones and cornet) and Eric Zwang Eriksson (percussion)

Track Listing: Road: 1. Frog Rock 2. Golden Wedding 3. So Dicht Bei Mir 4. Dreaming Of South East London 5. (Speeding Through The) Cabbage Fields 6. Sleeping In The Shade Of Elephants 7. Micadoremi 8. Sykesykesyke 9. Super Constellation 10. No Place For Illusions 11. Old Magic Carpet 12. Wood For Wacky 13. La Valse Montagne

Personnel: Road: Anke Lucks (trombone); Almut Schlichting (baritone saxophone) and Christian Marien (drums)