Udo Schindler/Michel Wintsch

April 26, 2023

Le Demon De L’ Analogie
FMR CD 630-0422

Tim Berne/Matt Mitchel
One More Please
Intakt CD 395

Diversity between the US concept of free improvisation and the European one is put into boldest relief in these duo sessions. The contrast doesn’t have much to do with the fact that on Le Demon De L’ Analogie, the disc with Swiss pianist Michel Wintsch and  German Udo Schindler plays a variety of saxophones and clarinets, while on One More Please, American Tim Berne concentrates on the alto saxophone with fellow Yank Matt Mitchell on piano.

Instead it’s a matter of concept and realization. The eight tracks on the disc by Wintsch, who has played with Michel Doneda, and Schindler, who has worked with numerous Euro improvisers, reflects pure free music, with the exploration of timbres and extensions reflected in dual in-the-moment creation and reaction. Meanwhile the seven tracks on the Berne/Mitchell disc, all of which were composed by the saxophonist, maintain a sometime tenuous, but always unbreakable link to the melody, harmony and rhythm associated with Jazz.

A progressive suite as well as a succession of tonal experiments, improvisations on the German disc flow one into another, concentrated a string of sound motifs. Moving from track to track, Schindler emphasizes many reed motifs including peeps, nasal snores, fragmented saxophone tones, contrabass clarinet wallows and foghorn-like renal reflux. For his part Wintsch constantly works up and down the scale with changes in tempo, pressure and pitch. Specializing in key clips, he also hammers against the wood of harp and fallback to meet altissimo reed toners; intermittent and swaying chording matches the reedist’s tongue slaps, yelping bites and concentrated drones; and constricts his output to single key pressure as stutters and squeezes thin reed tones. Although other tropes such as widening saxophone overblowing to hollow puffs and prestissimo piano patterns are emphasized before, and the final track concentrates the interface into a rugged, bottom scrapping finale, the CD’s real climax is the penultimate “D’une Phrase”. As reed smears are compacted into multiphonic squalls and hollow honks, the pianist’s pedal-pushed chording projects rhythmic rumbles, before keyboard clinks and near-yodeling blowing collapse into collective dissidence.

Berne and Mitchell, who each work with numerous other creative musicians, are scarcely Paul Desmond and Bill Evans. But from the start of the first track, the slow moving “Purdy”, a logical emphasis on keyboard variations and elongated reed vibrations complement one another in ways that can suggest melody. Carefully shaped piano notes and molded saxophone trills not only create tandem expositions but sometimes combine for the finale. This double counterpoint is expressed at its most logical during the concluding “Rolled Oats/Curls”.  Loops of irregular reed vibrations ascend to strained altissimo squeaks and triple tonguing as the pianist ranges over the keyboard filling any spaces left open by the saxophonist. Simultaneously the tempo slows and becomes gentler until it reaches a point where circular breathed reed textures and swift patterned keyboard glissandi torque the interaction and segue into a broken chord connections. Unlike the other disc however, the Americans add animation to atonality. “Oddly Enough/Squidz” for instance is a line that bounces along in broken chord harmony, driven by  cracked key plinks and reed doits and vibrations. Pianism becomes almost flowery as saxophone tones remain astringent, although the theme breaks apart as it slows down from presto to andante, then ascends in in pitch before comfortably rolling away. Two concepts of  duo improvising are suggested and illustrated by these CDs.  Each is valid and worth following.

–Ken Waxman

Track Listing: Demon: 1. Le Demon De L’ Analogie 2. Des Paroles 3. Inconnues 4. Chanterent-elles 5. Sur Vous Levres 6. Lambeaux Mandits 7. D’une Phrase 8. Absurde?

Personnel: Demon: Udo Schindler (clarinet, alto clarinet, contrabass clarinet and soprano and alto  saxophone) and Michel Wintsch (piano)

Track Listing: One: 1. Purdy 2. Number 2 3. Rose Colored Missive 4. Oddly Enough/Squidz 5. Middle Seat Blues/Chicken Salad Blues 6. Motian Success 7. Rolled Oats/Curls

Personnel: One Tim Berne (alto saxophone) and Matt Mitchell (piano)