Erika Dagnino Quartet: Signs (2013)
The setting of fiery free jazz fits the uncompromising temper of Dagnino's poetry and her bilingual delivery of lines, first in Italian, than reprised in English. As if only the intense and rough emotional turmoil of free jazz discourse and the musical flexibility of seasoned improvisers can envelope Dagnino's unsettling tales of fever, wounds and dry solitude. Her somber, almost militant reciting is part of the free-flowing musical texture, balancing the interplay, contributing to the suspense and leaving enough room for improvisations that add emotional depth to the suggestive spoken words.
Dagnino poems attempt to encompass momentary experiences of fleeting natural scenes, acknowledging its passing, the passing of time, of life. The chamber, free improvisation mirror these dark visions as both are sonic utterances of the moment. This bleak ambiance is best captured on "Terza Improvvisazione" and "Quinta Improvvisazione," with the recognition that: "Upward footprints of clouds. Downward wounded footprints...," abstracted with dissonant electronic sounds, fractured rhythms and tensed bowing on the double bass on the former, and a powerful, possessed performance on the latter by the quartet.
Dagnino poetry and music demand careful listening before the multifaceted images and sounds are grasped. Still this is a highly rewarding experience.
Track Listing: Preludio; Prima Improvvisazione; Seconda Improvvisazione; Terza Improvvisazione; Quarta Improvvisazione; Intermezzo; Quinta Improvvisazione; Improvvisazione Finale.
Personnel: Erika Dagnino: poetry, voice; Ras Moshe: flute, soprano sax, tenor sax; Ken Filiano: double bass, effects; John Pietaro: vibraphone, glockenspiel, snare drum, tom-tom, various bells, suspended cymbals, triangle, wind chimes, shaker.
Record Label: Slam Records