Squid’s Ear review by Florence Wetzel

CF 281Susan Santos Silva / Torbjorn Zetterberg – Almost Tomorrow (CF 281)
Almost Tomorrow is a tremendous piece of music, a powerful burst of free playing that also incorporates classic jazz styles. Portuguese trumpeter and flugelhornist Susan Santos Silva and Swedish bassist Torbjörn Zetterberg make a formidable duo: they each have a remarkable command of their instrument, which allows them to explore a stunning range of sound. Silva and Zetterberg recorded these ten songs in the last days of 2012 in the deep dark of Swedish winter at Zetterberg’s family cabin in Härjedalen, a sparsely populated region full of misty mountain ranges. The resulting music is a forceful blend that’s impressive and shocking and absolutely enchanting.

Most of the tunes are avant-free concoctions that are a joy to behold. “Knights of Storvälen” resembles a windy landscape, showcasing the duo’s ability to craft a fully realized atmosphere. The sounds are the subtlest of the subtle, warped and familiar at the same time, creating a thoroughly enjoyable tension. Silva is really a marvel; she gets such a startling array of sounds on her instrument, from small splutterings to large swaths of tone, from creamy smooth peaks to imposing jagged ridges. Zetterberg plays with a vibrant urgency, sure and strong as he builds an architecture of intensity and dynamics. “Columbus Arrival in Härjedalen” is a long, wild piece, kind of an inverted “Taps.” Silva displays an exquisitely pure tone, but she also gets immense pleasure from shredding — nay, flaying — musical notes. Zetterberg digs deep into the strings, coaxing and cajoling them to stretch beyond the beyond. “Cow Safari” has a free-jazz jam energy, with Zetterberg’s bass providing a driving engine that Silva dances atop, leaping and alighting and plunging once more. Silva plays with a great majesty when she so desires, tapping into the regal quality of her instrument: here she offers more long, sustained notes, with lovely lines that are full of unexpected twists.

In the midst of the joyful experimentation, there are a few surprising visits from jazz history. “Almost Tomorrow” is more melodic piece: Zetterberg starts off with a pretty solo, and when Silva enters, grainy and gritty, she channels her inner Louis Armstrong and brings Satchmo right up to date. It’s a beautifully poignant tune, yearning and a touch regretful. “Action Jan-Olov” is an energetic song, full of Zetterberg’s rich plucking pounding, which creates a fantastic rhythm for Silva to bounce off. Here Silva’s muted excursions invoke Miles Davis, particularly his vastly underrated later work, where a few finely sculpted notes could speak volumes. “Nötskalsmusik #6” is a brief meditation infused with the cool Nordic melancholy of seminal musician Lars Gullin, as well as the direct-heart playing of great Swedish trumpeters like Jan Allan. It’s a gorgeous piece, with sustained notes of heartrending beauty. Honestly, is there anything Silva and Zetterberg can’t do?

There’s definitely something special going on in Almost Tomorrow. It’s one of those CDs that give the listener a feeling of discovery, a sense of being on the ground floor of something fresh and intriguing. Silva and Zetterberg have both been playing out for years, but they are still relatively young, and thus this is just the beginning of something well worth following.
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