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Leo Records 30th Anniversary

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Vaycheslav Guyvoronsky / Andrey Kondakov / Vladimir Volkov

Christmas Concert

Leo Records

2008


Carl Ludwig Hubsch's Longrun Development Of The Universe

The Universe is a Disk

Leo Records

2009


Various Artists

Collaborations: 2004 and 2007

Leo Records

2009


Jan Klare / Wilbert de Joode / Michal Vatcher / Bart Maris

Played 1000

Leo Records

2009


Gratkowski / Lapin / Gramss / Bledsoe

Unplugged Mind

Leo Records

2009


The mighty Leo Records is celebrating 30 years of improvised music documentation. Leo is an English label, but operated by a Russian émigré, Leo Feigin. As with many great, individualist outfits, he's an uncompromising sort of chief, comparable to ECM's Manfred Eicher or Emanem's Martin Davidson.

The Russian trio of trumpeter Vyacheslav Guyvoronsky, pianist Andrey Kondakov and bassist Vladimir Volkov are prone to a certain amount of sinister tomfoolery. Their Christmas Concert is from a December 2006 gig recorded in their home city of St. Petersburg. Extended pieces allow ample space for hyperactive playfulness, a constantly tensed resourcefulness as piano is prepared in real time, bass attains violin pitch and trumpet needles deep into the carapace. They're afire with invention and invariably unpredictable. All three employ their cartoonish voices, skillfully integrating snorts, jabbering and whispering in tongues, never cringe-making, instead pulled off with aplomb, in a kind of pomp-mockery. The wood flutes come out for the closing track, along with simultaneous glugging vocal sounds. The results are just as profound, even as they deliberately limit their palette, ending up with a skeletal folkloric funk.

German tubaman Carl Ludwig Hbsch's Longrun Development Of The Universe is a tiny formation with a grand handle, as he's joined only by countryman Matthias Schubert (tenor sax) and Netherlander Wolter Wierbos (trombone). Hbsch composes most of The Universe is a Disk, but there's clearly much space for spontaneity. The opening three tracks are huddled under the heading of 'upperside,' their inspiration cartoon composer Carl Stalling. Notes are extended and contracted in turn, the length and shape of phrases in constant flux. Muted blubbering abounds and all three players enthusiastically smear and drawl with vocalized drones. This trio also effectively deploys its vocal cords in the name of humor and distress but possess authority when scaling back to the extremes of quiet minimalism, with heavy breathing and snorting events taking place in near-isolation. When they reach the 'underside' section of five pieces (the album's bulk), music sometimes becomes an environmental blizzard (factory? airport? train tunnel?), a quality of disembodiment through amplification.

Pianist Marilyn Crispell
Marilyn Crispell
Marilyn Crispell
b.1947
piano
, along with Norwegian drummer Paal Nilssen-Love
Paal Nilssen-Love
Paal Nilssen-Love
b.1974
drums
are the common factor in both combos of Collaborations 2004 and 2007. Both lineups were recorded at the Perspectives Festival in Vsteras, Sweden. The 2004 quartet provides a pair of lengthy improvisations, as reedman Fredrik Ljungkvist and bassist Palle Danielsson, the latter making his most ferocious appearance on disc ever, join Crispell and Nilssen-Love. This is quite an unusual formation, plunging into a boiling vat straight away, as Ljungkvist squirms in a sharp clarinet attack. The joint swirling motion is maintained at length. For "Aros," Ljungkvist switches to tenor saxophone and he's still dictating the level of assault, eventually stepping aside to allow Crispell and Danielsson a tranquil stretch. He reenters for a closedown of splashy lyricism. The 2007 quintet has Crispell and Nilssen-Love joined by Magnus Broo (trumpet), Lars-Goran Ulander (alto saxophone) and Per Zanussi (bass). Broo cuts bloodily, flutter-buzzing to urge the others upward, getting Crispell to hammer at her most aggressive extreme. Then her own "Silence Again" has a gracefully conclusive air.

German reeds (Jan Klare), Belgian trumpet (Bart Maris), Dutch bass (Wilbert De Joode) and American drums (Michael Vatcher) converge for Played 1000. There's a mixture of joint improvisations and pieces by Klare. Either way, a general brevity gives the feel of wide vocabularies being skirted around, tunes dashed off, permutations probed, rough textures rubbed into ridges. Flute and trumpet complement each other on "Pavement," bonded in staccato unison. Bass and drums clatter with purpose on "Fence" until the horns swagger forth. Many moods are traversed throughout. "Park" is a virtual lullaby, hesitant with mute and brushes while "Warden" can't help but evoke classic Ornette Coleman, broken down into a bare skeleton, Klare honking coarsely. The closing "Pedestrian" steps even closer to the Ornette side of the street, but this quartet is certainly not without its own sound.

Most of Unplugged Mind is a trio session, with flutist Helen Bledsoe only on the final piece. Frank Gratkowski (reeds), Alexey Lapin (piano) and Sebastian Gramss (bass) creep across a very cautious soundfield, their small-event outbreaks taking on a heightened meaning amidst such scarcity of volume. Gratkowski's bass clarinet gibbers, but only under the most controlled circumstances. The trio's sheer restraint is to be admired. This is a wholesome session, but it suffers for operating on the introverted side, when set beside the previous four Leos. Three tracks in and Gratkowski's fluttering on clarinet, Lapin's dampening keys, Gramss is making glancing strikes. Wiry, gobbety, firm, belligerent, the density increases on "Voice Over The...." No sonic compression on this one! Just wait for its high volume climax!

Tracks and Personnel



Christmas Concert

Tracks: Attacks; Christmas Waltz; Bass Bridge; Ballad c-moll; Arabesque; Take 7.

Personnel: Vaycheslav Guyvoronsky: trumpet; Andrey Kondakov: piano; Vladimir Volkov: bass.



The Universe is a Disk

Tracks: The Common Determinator; Common Indetermination; Another Determination; Von Ohr zu Ohr; Floating Fragments Part 2; Floating Fragments Part 3; Articulations; Floating Fragments Part 1; Elefantenrunde.

Personnel: Carl Ludwig Hubsch: tuba; Matthias Schubert: tenor sax; Wolter Wierbos: trombone.



Collaborations: 2004 and 2007

Tracks: Quartet Collaboration; Aros; Quintet Collaboration; Quintet Collaboration; Silence Again.

Personnel: Marilyn Crispell: piano; Fredrik Ljungkvist: reeds: Palle Danielsson: bass; Paal Nilssen-Love: drums; Magnus Broo: trumpet; Lars-Goran Ulander: alto sax; Per Zanussi: bass.



Played 1000

Tracks: City Forest; Panorama (Canzonette); Museum; Pavement; Fence; Skywalk; Park; Fountain; Warden; Pedestrian.

Personnel: Jan Klare: reeds; Wilbert de Joode: bass; Michael Vatcher: drums; Bart Maris: trumpet.



Unplugged Mind

Tracks: Unplugged Mind; Retain the Aspect; Turn to; In Harmony; Voice Over the ...; Speak Silent.

Personnel: Frank Gratkowski: reeds; Alexey Lapin: piano; Sebastian Gramss: bass; Helen Bledsoe: flute.

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