Phil Grenadier / Bruno Raberg Duo: Plunge (2012)
Part adlib verse and part haiku poetry, Plunge is, above all, a study of sound and its ability to conjure images and emotions.
A collaborative effort by Swedish born bassist Bruno Råberg and trumpeter Phil Grenadier, Plunge's nineteen short pieces range from intricately impressionistic to deeply expressive abstractions.
On "Last Train To Seville," Grenadier overdubs his trumpet with it is own echo, simulating the locomotive's piercing horn but with a sense of angst and urgency, especially with Råberg slapping bass. The instrumentation also creates a nocturnal ambience, with Råberg's bass rolling like the train wheels. The smart contrast between Grenadier's unpredictable phrasing and Råberg's almost hypnotic vamp on "Sand Clock" is suggestive of the capricious yet unwavering rhythm of time's passage.
The centerpiece of the album, both in length and deliveryand the only standardis a chagrined take of Ornette Coleman's classic "Lonely Woman." The dual trumpet parts improvise in response to each other, while the carefully and precisely introduced bass notes give the melody a palpable sorrow of solitude.
The sound design occasionally is a tad too tedious, such as on the otherwise lilting "Ushas/Quadratic," featuring Råberg's guitar-like strumming. The futuristic "Triangulum," with its multiple trumpet antiphony and electronically enhanced bass lines, is another example.
The remainder of the session ranges from the melancholic, with vague Latin hints ("Moving Cycles"), to the contemplative ("Isomorphic"), where the duo mirrors each other. A few of the other tracks are far less memorable ("Area 51" or "Line and Sphere"), but remains interesting to avoid detracting from the overall effort, even though they do not add much to the thematic structure of the work.
Despite a very few rough spots, this is a courageous and delightful musical exploration.
Track Listing: Reveille; Last Train to Seville; Five Short Pieces: Seiryuu- Azure Dragon, Byakko - White Tiger, Suzaku - Vermillion Bird, Genbu - Black Tortoise, Ouryu - Yellow Dragon; Lonely Woman; Heartwood; Ushas/Quadratic; Intersections I - IV: Part 1 - Moving Cycles, Part 2 - Line and Sphere, Part 3 - Sand Clock, Part 4 - Isomorphic; Area 51; The Outermost Island; Triangulum; Lizrael; Intersections V: Part 5 - Being and Time.
Personnel: Phil Grenadier: trumpet; Bruno Råberg: acoustic bass, sound design.
Record Label: Orbis Music