Double Duo: Crossword Puzzle (2007)
When Angelo Verploegen (trumpet) was invited to organize a concert to be performed at the Bimhuis in Amsterdam, he first thought of Misha Mengelberg (piano). Verploegen had long wanted to play with Mengelberg, whom he appropriately calls the godfather of European improvised music. He realized that this would be a stale combination though, as the duo thing with Mingelberg had been done often enough. Verploegen considered alternatives, one of which was to expand the concept. He thought of Natsuki Tamura (trumpet) and Satoko Fujii (piano), both of whom were willing to travel to Holland.
This recording is the first collaboration between the four and the result is remarkably satisfying, but not surprising. All four have shown that they can pick a thread and unravel it. They can, as well, latch on to an idea and fill it with their own individuality.
The quartet finds creative common ground in the judicious use of space and time as they gather for "a butterfly, bee, mantis, and grasshopper. Tamura and Verploegen loosen squiggles, yelps, tart bursts and breathy interlocutions. The piano is a soothing messenger as Mengelberg instills melody both through quiet passages and fleet runs, and Fujii counterpoints on the strings. The pith comes in the conversation between Tamura and Verploegen, as they trade ripe ideas and gradually raise the intensity. With Mengelberg and Fujii continuing on their melodic discourse, this is an impressive juxtaposition of the free and the structured.
The duality is also seen on "A prescription. Mingelberg and Fujii propel the attack in a blaze of notes and powered chords and then settle into tranquil mode. Into the quiet come the trumpets, growling and inferring the blues to add a piquant flavor.
The CD runs under 44 minutes but the Double Duo makes every second meaningful.
Track Listing: A butterfly, bee, mantis, and grasshopper; A prescription.
Personnel: Angelo Verploegen: trumpet; Misha Mengelberg: piano; Natsuki Tamura: trumpet; Satoko Fujii: piano.
Record Label: Libra Records