Sebi Tramontana

August 1, 2022

Unfolding to be You
WeInsist CD WEIN 18

Sérgio Carolino
Below O
Clean Feed CF 594 CD

Unprecedented and original improvisations for solo brass instruments demonstrate the cerebral and physical actions that go into creating such stand-alone projects. Veteran Italian trombonist Sebi Tramontana’s Unfolding to be You is exemplary on its own. Meanwhile Portuguese tubaist Sérgio Carolino adds to the musical aberration by improvising on Below O with the Lusophone “Lucifer”, with bells, valves from older tubas attached to his own. Carolino is part of the TGB trio, while Tramontana was worked with everyone from Evan Parker to Joëlle Léandre.

Diving his tonal excursions among 15 sometimes very brief tracks, Tramontana’s augmentation of common brass tone work through many that appear near acrobatic. Futter-tonguing, shaking and gurgling timbres bring out a spectrum of ‘bone tones from yipping squeaks all the way down to nephritic ripples. Percussive add-ons from choked valves and metal body resonations add supplementary motifs, while hums, yells and growls projected through the horn’s body tube allow him to pivot to ancillary textures. These aren’t narcissist experimental for their own sake however. Ambulatory underpinnings keep the program linear. Plus for every track devoted to wallowing in renal scoops or slithering among different speeds and tempos, genuine lyrical swing defines others.

Besides the final “This is my morning song (al final del día)”, which the trombonist expresses the bittersweetness of love by literally singing the lyrics, while adding some slide shivers, several tunes overtly or not reference Jazz, Pop and even anthemic themes. “Vespro’ takes off with mellow Lawrence Brown-like licks where sly Spiritual-like timbres are burnished then rearranged with tongue slaps, while the emphasized rips, smears and bellows can’t disguise detours into snatches of “Alfie”.  Also, the rugged scoops and half valve whispers on “Squeeze me” don’t disguise the Ellington-penned standard. Onomatopoeic tone whooshes and rugged pitch bending subvert a variant of “Sunny Side of the Street” on “Buzz Me” as cracking tone and gravelly vocalizing mate the melody to suspended and speedy effects.

Sequences of single horn call-and-response riffs are also heard at points, though Tramontana outlines his strategy most clearly on the longest and title track. Repeated shaking patterns and scooping flatulence becomes a single line that accelerates just as the theme slips, slides and snorts. Technical trombone skill confirmed, the track’s second half turn to balanced vocal humming, culminating in revealing the bare bones of “It Had to be You” lurking beneath. Still staccato tongued triplets at the end also confirm the album’s realized blend of grotesquery and groove.

Searching is emphasized over swing during Carolino’s single-track elaboration of the Lusophone’s malleability. Call-and-response vamps are very much part of the narrative,, though hearing two or several timbres simultaneously isn’t limited to certain passages. Some brass effects bubble away in the distance, but the animus between high-pitched and low tone never gets so out hand that horizontal movement and architecture is threatened. Among the twists and turns of extended techniques, the tubaist manages to turn his hybrid instrument towards affirming a slinky, rhythmic path within the first sequence. Swallowing as well as spitting out brass shakes, Carolino establishes forward motion at the half-way point making alphorn-like cries and half-vale squalls clear at the same time. Successfully defining andante movement, wheezing tones soon meld into a rhythmic continuum so that scattered textures vibrate in tandem. A brief vocal sample and some ecclesiastical lyricism adds contrast and stability to the brass tour-de-force so that the final sequence unites unprecedented valve and bell sonic twists and curves, allowing the narrative to slide into a concentrated finale of blended timbres.

The challenge of turning solo playing into realized sound advances is expressed on both these discs, with the tubaist also doing so while exposing a unique instrument to the world.

–Ken Waxman

Track Listing: Unfolding: 1.Prologue 2.Fischia schiocca e soffia 3. Reflux control 4. Vespro 5. Those europeans 6. Unfolding to be you 7. Nicht müde werden 8. Refreshing wipe 9. L’enfant et le sortilège 10. Squeeze me 11. Siparietto 12. Buzz me 13. A.A. 14. One more time 15. This is my morning song (al final del día)

Personnel: Unfolding: Sebi Tramontana (trombone and voice)

Track Listing: Below: 1. Below O

Personnel: Below: Sérgio Carolino (Lusophone “Lucifer”)