Rudi Records: Reviving the Avant-garde
Speaking of his release schedule, Iudicone says: "The last album was released in May, the next will be an all-Italian project, and in the fall there will be a release with a European trio." When it comes to the future, the goal is to establish the label as a long term entity: "In just 15 months, Rudi Records has created its own identity, something that is very important to me. Album after album, I hope to follow the path I've taken so far."
Eugenio Colombo / Raffaella Misiti
October Songs: Play the Songs of Leonard Cohen
October Songs, the album by flutist and saxophonist Eugenio Colombo and singer Raffaella Misiti is one of the most traditional and experimental outings in the Rudi catalog. As the subtitle, Play the Songs of Leonard Cohen, reveals, the subject is the music of singer/songwriter Leonard Cohen.
The minimalistic approach of the duo is commendable. Without any form of embellishment, they aim straight for the existential core of the songs and dig out a naked beauty that is sometimes lost in Cohen's own arrangements of his songs.
The seemingly impossible task of finding a fresh approach to classics like "Hallelujah" and "Suzanne" is solved with natural ease. The former receives a chilling a cappella treatment, with Misiti's voice spiraling through an imaginary cathedral, while the latter is strengthened by Colombo's dancing saxophone that playfully wraps itself around the tuneful recitation of the lyrics.
The duo also contributes an original, "Little America," an elegiac composition sung in Italian, filled with mournful and passionate poetry.
In spite of the pared down line-up, the album manages to unite everything from jazz and improvisation to ancient folklore and Dadaism, all seen through the wonderfully twisted looking-glass of Leonard Cohen's compositions.
Giancarlo Schiaffini / Sebi Tramontana
Wind & Slap
Brass players Giancarlo Schiaffini and Sebi Tramontana make up another duo that mixes traditional sounds with something entirely new. Wind & Slap is built around the rambling conversations of two trombones, but during the course of the album, instruments are changed, and tuba and euphonium add further colors to the musical palette.
The opener, "Quiet as a Bone," is a good example of the album's aesthetic, at once old-fashioned and modern. The truncated blurbs of trombone, gurgling sounds and snippets of processional melody give the feeling of listening to a New Orleans march on acid. Schiaffini and Tramontana engage in a tight and transformative dialogue where every tone, color and shade of their instruments is explored.
The album can be divided into two sections: a studio session, lasting from track one to 13, and a live-session, which makes up the three remaining tracks.
It is especially fascinating to discover how the duo's expression changes, depending on the context. The studio tracks are shorter and more tranquil in their approach while the live-recordings add a gut-bucket feeling of old-time-blues and Dadaist madness, with the musicians coughing and howling like midnight wolves on the prowl in "About Sleepwalkers and Wind."
Wind & Slap is aural slap in the face, but it is also a gentle blow where the experiments never lose sight of humanity. Basically, this is the sound of two original voices engaging in a sprawling conversation and an open invitation to the listener to join in the fun.
Dimitri Grechi Espinoza / Tito Mangialajo Rantzer
When We Forgot the Melody
An accusation that is often made of improvised music is that it "forgets the melody." Saxophonist Dimitri Grechi Espinoza and bassist Tito Mangialajo Rantzer have taken this statement at face-value and humorously called their album of pure improvisations When We Forgot the Melody.
The ironic thing, though, and the good news for anyone who likes their jazz to sing, is that it is, in fact, a work that truly remembers the melody. Listening to the nine sections of the album, it is remarkable how close the music sounds to "real" compositions. The idea of instant composition really makes sense in this case.