Udo Schindler / Karina Erhard / Damon Smith

July 3, 2021

The Munich Sound Studies Vol. 1

FMR 593-0920

Robert Dick/Dan Blake

Laugh & Lie Down

Chant Record CR 2101RO

Expanding the chamber-Jazz configuration with in-the-moment improvisations are two reed-flute groups, one expanded with addition of double bass. Maven of New Music flute innovations, New York’s Robert Dick has played in multiple countries in multiple ensembles with multiple sound innovators like Joëlle Léandre. A transverse instrument inventor as well, Dick brings his glissando flute, bass flute and piccolo to this concert with educator/composer/ saxophonist Dan Blake. A coup[le of month later in Germany the expanded instrumentation was reversed with Udo Schindler improvising on clarinet, bass clarinet and alto horn and Katrina Erhard on flutes. Schindler who plays with a small army of like-minded players who pass through Munich and Erhard who usually performs with contemporary chamber music groups are joined by American bassist Damon Smith, who has played with everyone from Burton Greene to Birgit Ulher.

Expressing themselves at greatest length on the title track, Dick and Blake engage in a profound do-see-do as they exchange high and low pitched, rugged and smooth vibrations using every manner of extended techniques. Like an accomplished comedy duo, they also switch roles frequently, with neither remaining the straight man or the comic for too long. With allegro glissandi Dick’s pure puffs complement Blake’s variable peeps and trills. Yet even as the timbres get wider and more expressive the interaction stays horizontal and as balanced as a Laurel and Hardy routine. Part of the charm is mutual taunting as when Dick slurs out a subterranean rumble from the bass flute and Blake vibrates a connective twitter; or alternately when the saxophonist’s squawks and slap tonguing are met by watery gurgles from the glissando flute. Dick’s airy or mellow flutters interrupt forward motion to make distinctive musical points with the same dexterity that the saxophonist’s percussive key slaps or the flutist eviscerating dissected tones from within the body tube cause interruptions. During the duo’s back and forth, the detours into piccolo arcs above the material or unrolling wide vibration from the saxophone confirm their sophistication in stretching horn boundaries while leaving ambulation intact.

The same could be said of the Munich trio, though obviously the addition of Smith’s string rubs and stretches creates a fulcrum of throbbing pressure upon which the elevated pitches are displayed. Schindler’s three horns mean that any number of unexpected timbres can be displayed during the six tracks, with Erhard’s trills providing additional colors to the narratives. Cannily that concept is also reversed. On the light and linear “a_e.2” for instance it’s the aerophone’s brief but harsh peeps which define the exposition with the reeds disruptive forces in the shape of clarion clarinet licks and alto horn bites. Ample use is also made of the double bass’ tone colors as Smith’s solid sul tasto pushes or pops are prevented from becoming an oppressive wall of sound by the canny expelling of reed vibrations on “a_e.5”. Additionally speedy flute peeps and plunger tones from the horn add a harmonized dimension to the tough theme introduced by col legno bow strokes on “a_e. 4”. Confirming that pastoral and mellow tones can coexist with insistent sul tasto rubs, reed loops and even transverse mouth percussion is ““a_e. 4”.” With proper timbral layering each player helps balance the musical tale.

In duo or trio form these horn affiliations show how progressive sounds can be displayed no matter the instrumental make up.

–Ken Waxman

Track Listing: Laugh: 1. Laugh and Lie Down 2. Red Corner 3. 500 Forks

Personnel: Laugh: Dan Blake (soprano saxophone) and Robert Dick (glissando flute, bass flute and piccolo)

Track Listing: Munich: 1. a_e.1 2. a_e.2 3. a_e. 4. a_e. 5. a_e.5 6. a_e.6

Personnel: Munich: Udo Schindler (clarinet, bass clarinet and alto horn); Karina Erhard (C and alto flutes) and Damon Smith (bass)