Phil Grenadier / Bruno Raberg Duo: Plunge (2012)
Two men are responsible for every sound heard on the avant-leaning Plunge, but this record shouldn't be mistaken for a naked, take-me-as-I-am duo date. Bassist Bruno Råberg and trumpeter Phil Grenadier take full advantage of technology to create piquant aural landscapes that expand and expound on the very nature of man-to-man dialogue.
This pair plunges into the abyss of the mind as they explore themselves, their surroundings, their instruments and their connection to one another, but this isn't all off-the-cuff, on-the-spot construction. The presence of aural overlays and multiple, self-conversant Grenadiers make it clear that deliberation and free improvisation made a pact to get along during this date. Råberg, who is credited for "sound design," sonically sculpts, adds and tweaks all of the aural elements at his disposal, giving greater structure and foundation to music that often exists on the brink of uncertainty; he proves to be a thoughtful architect.
While simple and unadorned dialogue comes into play in select places ("Intersections: Part I-Moving Cycles" and "The Outermost Island"), the majority of this set isn't built around au natural sounds. Liquid tones ride atop semi-waltzing bottoms ("Last Train To Seville"), clipped and curt abstractions come to the foreground ("Five Short Pieces: Suzaku-Vermillion Bird") and layered voices create an atmosphere of harmonic eeriness ("Triangulum"). Elsewhere, diabolical structures meld into the unknown ("Ushas/Quadratic"), agitated bass-as-percussion gives way to a searching horn ("Heartwood") and a grounding bass ostinato provides a foundation for some trumpet painting ("Intersections: Part 3-Sandclock").
Saxophonist Ornette Coleman's "Lonely Woman" served as the inspiration for this outing, so it seems fitting that it's included on the playlist. A sense of despair and isolation runs through this song, which carries greater emotional weight than the rest of the material. Plunge posits that free jazz and focused construction aren't mutually exclusive models. Grenadier and Råberg teach them how to peacefully coexist on this one.
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.