Joe Fonda: ZMF Trio & Angelini/Fonda/Lopez
Bruno Angelini/Joe Fonda/Ramon Lopez
These two recent trio releases find American bassist Joe Fonda refining his already diverse sonic palette; they present perfect environments in which to do so, as they are delightfully beyond category.
Circle the Path opens, surprisingly, with a bit of back masking, setting the stage for a beautifully and hauntingly psychedelic four-and-a-half minutes of slowly arching drone. Fonda's arco work is matched by violinist Jesse Zubot's, with gorgeously varied vibrato from both musicians.
"Low Blues is a case in point, Fonda and Zubot sounding as one instrument, Jean Martin's drums providing rumbling approval. Indeed, each track presents a multitude of textural and compositional twists, "Low Blues initially more like a Ligeti transcription than a blues. When the down-and-dirty rhetoric does finally kick in, all three players are proven well versed, Fonda and Martin deep inside the pocket, Zubot just that tantalizing bit behind as he evokes all manner of slides, groans and whispers from his instrument. "Next Step , one of the disc's most powerful statements, shows Fonda at his most 'jazzy', as he constructs a slowly building solo that gives way to a fierce gallop, over which Zubot engages slow exoticism with not a hint of parody or pretension.
While much of the music on Circle the Path is composed, some of it almost invoking Braxton filtered through Stravinski, Silent Cascade is completely improvised. Even so, the first few minutes of "Perpetual Motion speak to a unified aesthetic of open exploration, time and pulse suspended, or transcended, in a swirling orchestral vortex, largely of pianist Bruno Angelini's making. Here, Fonda is as much a percussionist as Ramon Lopez, slapping out rhythmic counterpoint to the piano's darkly pastoral arpeggiated hues. Fonda and Lopez interact similarly on "Ephemerals , this time joined in post-Monk territory by Angelini, whose ululations add a layer of enthusiasm to an already exuberant session.
In its finest moments, this trio sounds larger than it really is, as with "Dense Crowd ; it is refreshingly difficult to tell which musician is responsible for the perfect placement of each sonic object. Indeed, having Fonda in the fold pushes both groups beyond their already exemplary musicianship and further contributions from these exciting trios are welcome!
Tracks and Personnel
Circle The Path
Tracks: Low, Dark & Slow; Circle; Slow Blues; #135; Next Step; The Path; Mishap; Wild Horse; Roll; Low, Dark & Slow (Reprise).
Personnel: Jesse Zubot: violin; Jean Martin: drums; Joe Fonda: bass
Tracks: perpetual motion; silent cascade; soplo; passing by; dense crowd; ilots coulants; corazon; ephemerals; woman walking by; passées sans retour.
Personnel: Bruno Angelini: piano; Joe Fonda: double bass; Ramon Lopez: drums, percussion.