Daily Archives: November 5, 2008

Touching Extremes review by Massimo Ricci

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Carlos Zingaro / Dominique Regef / Wilbert De Joode – Spectrum (CF 110)
Exanthemas and regurgitations, running away and running on empty to stand still at last, unremitting whirlwinds and reasonably calm drones. A game of paradoxical hypotheses is played without repentance by this special trio, recorded at the Spectrum Festival (Porto, 2004) in three lengthy improvisations that challenge any kind of cataloguing. Zingaro’s violin coils excavate and exasperate, hinting to the limits of a non-existent tonality only to let us visualize how tiresome the playing might be if that restriction had to be complied with. Implacably anarchic, the man’s systematic disfigurement of phrasing emphasizes the photoelectric temperament of the music, which seems to change whatever one tries to focus the attention on, almost responding at the smallest movement of the body. Daring disagreements come from Regef’s hurdy-gurdy, as he tries to set things on a vaguely more controllable level through periodic stases and erudite manipulations of a singular instrument, which in his hands can sting and cuddle while still entertaining hopes of minimalist acceptance. Atypical qualities keep coming into view also when bassist De Joode enters the picture, a firm clutch on the low-frequency register evidently unarguable, the arco as a propeller of collected forces finally finding a meeting point to recharge batteries and start yet another crucial trip to random destinations. Reciprocal respect – these guys do listen to each other, and it shows – and the ideal proportionality between the sonic details make of “Spectrum” an album to get pleasure from time and again.

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Touching Extremes review by Massimo Ricci

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Mark Dresser/ Ed Harkins / Steven Schick – House of mirrors (CF 117)
The pedagogical book of rhythms written by new music-trained trumpeter Ed Harkins is the starting point for what’s found in “House of mirrors”, a venture started in 1999 with a long-distance exchange between himself and Mark Dresser, a musician who – not satisfied with having reinvented the lexicon of the double bass time and again – here plays one enhanced by a “surrealist pick-up system” designed by Kent McLagan, which allows him to highlight the sweet and sour spots of an instrument that, for its very nature, is frequently comparable to a bear that must be tamed with both sweetness and heavy manners. Initially the pair worked separately on the material, generated by the bassist’s attribution of pitches to the rhythmic specimens; but when Dresser joined Harkins in 2004 at the University of California in San Diego they were able to push the limits of their research even further by including percussionist Steven Schick (of Bang On A Can All-Stars renown), thus concocting a matchless blend of improvisation and structured exploration of angular melodic matter adding up as a remedy against the depressing feel of insincere irrelevance typical of many projects fusing jazz and contemporary idioms. Indeed the metrical designs upon which these scores were assembled are something to regard highly: forget about regular cadences or, heaven forbid, swing and prepare the ears to the continuous alterations of an unstable molecularity, despite the warm tone of the trumpets (whose array comprises piccolo, reed, 2-bell, slide and modular versions, plus a mellophone), representing a reassuring presence of sorts amidst curious circumstances and sudden disappearances. Music that does possess an involuntary sense of dry humour, alternating mathematical precision and an apparently illogical convertibility to peculiar kinds of relaxed moods, the whole immersed in first-rate methodological mastery.