Friday, May 25, 2012

Double Tandem - Cement (PNL, 2012)

This is a collectively improvised session recorded live at Cementen in Norway. The band consists of Ab Baars on tenor saxophone, Bb clarinet and shakuhachi, Paal Nilssen-Love on drums and percussion and Ken Vandermark on tenor saxophone and Bb clarinet. All three men are well versed in each others music, having performed together in many other settings, so this was truly a meeting of the minds. "Marl" opens the album with probing squeaks and percussion building up and developing. The way the two reed players work together is quite interesting on this track they seem to be taking turns supporting each other, laying down lines that compliment rather than conflict. Nilssen-Love takes a   rolling drum solo that is patient and never overly busy. One of the saxophonists moves to clarinet at the end of the piece for a swirling solo and both men will swap saxophone and clarinet for the remainder of the album. On the short interlude "Skarn," the music comes in short, slow abstract waves, with an interlude of high pitched horns intertwining over skittish percussion. "Shale" is the epic of the album, clocking over thirty minutes and running the gamut of emotions from tumultuous to gentle. Wavy drums and sax introduce the music with the saxophones stretching out in a powerful collectively improvised section. Stretching out long tones of reeds over light percussion, the music moves suite like fashion between solo, duo and trio sections. From playful squeaks against ringing bells to the haunting texture of Baars' shakuhachi, they cover a lot of improvisatory ground. Fans of free improvisation should be quite happy with the results. The fact that these men can come together in real time and create art in real time is very impressive. Cement - Squidco.

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