Aki Takase and Rudi Mahall: The Dessert (2003)
Previous collaborations between pianist Aki Takase and bass clarinetist Rudi Mahall have resulted in clever recapitulations of W. C. Handy and Eric Dolphy tunes. The Dessert allows both artists the freedom of a completely self-penned CD to present 17 pieces that emphasize their delectable dynamics. On the sweetest slices, piano and bass clarinet blend to create music that straddles the line between unstructured creativity and prescribed composition. The resultant musical aperitifs, while symbolizing oral delicacies, tickle the aural palate as well.
Takase's compositions are the most savory. The deliciously happy "Apple Cake" sets up with precise playing and quick tempo changes while "Panna Cotta" and "Crème au Caramel" are as elegant and rich as their vanilla cream and delicate egg custard gustatory counterparts. "Granatapfelsirup" adds the flavor and color of grenadine syrup to the mixture with its daring improvisational interplay. Piano lines are classical in feel and accuracy, as the polish of contemporary classical intermingles with the spontaneity of jazz.
Mahall's playing, particularly on his own compositions, blends in a bounty of random ingredients. These short forays enable the duo to be their most bold. The opening feedback noise of "Ear in, Ear out" and the warm deep resonance of "Black Pudding" demonstrate the range of Mahall's instrument, while "Another Sausage Roll" boasts large intervalic leaps that frame a catchy melody. The rarely heard contrabass clarinet dishes up rarefied sounds to help initiate the final, jointly composed four numbers, "Anekdots 1-4." They serve to bring the after-dessert conversation to an interesting conclusion. Both humorous and daring, The Dessert is an adventurously caloric addition to any musical diet.
This review originally appeared in the July 2003 issue of All About Jazz - New York .
Track Listing: 1. Head in, Head Out - 2:37 2. Apple Cake - 4:18 3. With Egg - 1:55 4. Panna Cotta - 4:33 5. Ear in, Ear Out - 3:34 6. Purity and Sweetness - 7:35 7. Another Sausage Roll - 2:10 8. Creme au Caramel - 5:47 9. Granatapfelsirup - 5:01 10. Voskresenie - 3:35 11. Raskaz - 3:28 12. Black Pudding - 1:59 13. Pirodjok - 2:58 14. Anekdot, No. 1 - 4:52 15. Anekdot, No. 2 - 3:28 16. Anekdot, No. 3 - 2:23 17. Anekdot, No. 4 - 3:04
Personnel: Aki Takase - piano; Rudi Mahall - bass, Eb, and contrabass clarinets.