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Samo Salamon: Fall Memories (2007)

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Samo Salamon: Fall Memories How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

Guitarist Samo Salamon's remarkable Fall Memories is the second part (in recording date order) of the diptych by his European Quartet that includes Nano (Zalozba Goga, 2007), and which represents the current state of Salamon's musical development. The most singular aspect of his music as it has progressed is that, while each release has a different sound and thus explores a different area of musical interest, Salamon's core style remains recognizable as it continues to be honed.

Fall Memories shares with Nano a trio consisting of Salamon, virtuouso tubaist Michel Godard—who can also be heard on Pierre Favre's Fleuve (ECM, 2007)—and drummer Roberto Dani, connected to Salamon through reedman Achille Succi on Terra (Splasc(H), 2006). On Nano the fourth spot was filled by saxophonist Julian Arguelles; here, by energetic accordionist Luciano Biondini (who can be seen on this YouTube video).

The switch from a single-line instrument to chordal instrument is important since it allows even more freedom and opportunities for Salamon's arrangements. Biondini is not used merely as a means for harmonic ends however; he is as much a soloist as everyone else.

Carefully maintaining the balance between independent lines that imply a harmony, as they interact in time, and the more traditional solo/accompaniment arrangement is the magic of the music on both albums.

Godard and Biondini are aggressive players for whom every note and phrase is incisive and full of forward energy, regardless of their position at the forefront or in support. They are also completely comfortable with the ever-present "serious humor" in Salamon's music. Indeed, this duo, accompanied by Dani's light, yet propulsive drums, plays a whole section of "Lady Grey" without Salamon and it is complete, self-contained and, yes, seriously funny.

By choosing such independent musicians, Salamon is free to compose and arrange complex and challenging music that achieves its form and emotional power from the sum of the parts.

Much is achieved by implication: there is nary an identifiable melody (as opposed to a phrase that might stand out) nor a harmonic progression that is clearly delineated. However, Salamon maintains a delicate, yet directed control that keeps the music moving forward and totally engaging. The music thus created gets its sound and energy from the individual lines that live in the space between the composed and the improvised.

From the abstract "Number Of Circles," which features incredible sounds from Godard in its opening and then develops from what seems to be nothing at all, to the emotional sound-painting of "For The Leaves" and the title track, and the wide open yet touching "Kei's Suite - Parts I-V," named after his child, Salamon creates a unique sound world.

With Fall Memories and Nano, Samo Salamon emerges as a composer to be reckoned with, way beyond being "just" a guitarist. This is music to be savored slowly, allowing its many layers to reveal themselves both individually and as complete compositions.

Track Listing: The Crocodile Is Crazy; Grace; Fall Memories; Lady Grey; Number Of Circles; For The Leaves; Our 76th Breakfast; Kei's Suite/Parts I-V; E.E. Cummings.

Personnel: Michel Godard: tuba; Samo Salamon: guitar; Luciano Bondini: accordion; Roberto Dani: drums.

Record Label: Splasc(H) Records

Style: Modern Jazz


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