For the third release on flautist Carlos Bechegas’ new Forward.rec label, he continues to draw on a series of duets recorded in July ’03, this time with German free pianist Alexander von Schlippenbach. Recorded at the Jazz a Luz Festival in France, Open Speech continues Bechegas’ search for interplay and interconnection. Unfortunately the results are nowhere near as successful as his release with flautist Michel Edelin, Open Frontiers , recorded three days later. While Bechegas and Schlippenbach are, of course, fine players, they seem to rarely connect; instead Schlippenbach seems to be somewhat unmotivated for the majority of the set, with Bechegas prompting and pushing, but only achieving some semblance of communion towards the end of the hour-long programme.
There are moments where the music sparks. “Speech V” finds Schlippenbach at his most animated, the only other exception being “Speech II,” where he attacks the piano and draws out rapid flurries of notes. But for the most part he remains surprisingly subdued; his blending of free and new music remains intact though, if not slightly detached. Bechegas is more animated, trying hard to pull Schlippenbach out of his lull with swoops and swirls, vocalizations and the extended techniques he has become known for in free music circles.
But for the most part this is a relatively uninspired and uninventive set where two obvious experts in the genre just don’t seem to click. That is, of course, the risk inherent in free music; but it’s too bad that Bechegas saw fit to release this set of music. Given how outstanding Open Frontiers is, the expectations for this disk were high indeed. Sadly, anticipation is never satisfied; Open Speech may be of some interest to fans of either musician, but they would be well advised to look elsewhere for better examples of real improvisational spirit.