Slovenian guitarist Samo Salamon has generated a good degree of heat over the last couple of years, first with his self-published '03 album Ornethology, then with last year's Ela's Dream. Both discs suggested the emergence of a young guitarist well on the way to finding a distinctive personal voice. The early promise is fulfilled on Two Hours, Salamon's first album with a US lineup, recorded in New York in late '04 with a tough local crew.
Salamon is engaging both as a guitarist and as a composer (all the tunes here are originals), and he brings the same agitated energy to both endeavours. His music is eager and edgy and excited, and his lines! pile up! climactic resolution! after climactic resolution! He can turn his hand to a more leisurely lyricism (as on "Empty Heart" and "The Lonely Tune," both, as their titles suggest, poignant introspections), but is most impressive on hot, jittery, up-tempo post-Ornette Coleman miniatures.
Salamon has picked 'n' mixed pragmatically from the harmolodic menu, but he hasn't bought the whole nine yards; when he's at his hottest, you can hear traces of James Blood Ulmer, but other lines recall Bill Frisell and early mentor John Scofield. Sonny Sharrock also peers around the corner from time to time. Salamon uses effects sparingly (mainly chorus and distortion) and has a penchant for tempo changes. He hasn't quite arrived at his destination yet, but Two Hours suggests he may soon.
Salamon's hands-across-the-ocean band here is busting. The album was recorded in just two hours, with one sotto voce rehearsal in bassist Mark Helias's apartment, thus necessitating a high degree of attentiveness and interaction between the musicians in the studio. The resulting collective spontaneity is well suited to Salamon's open-ended skeletal tunes and improvising abandon, and if the band doesn't always land on the one in perfect unison, a few ragged edges sit happily within the music. All three American musicians shine; saxophonist Tony Malaby is a particular thrill and delight, with split tones, growls, smears, lurches, jabs and body punches tumbling out of his tenor.
Salamon, whose recording activity is as prolix as his music, has announced no less than five new albums to be released this year and nextwith a New York quintet, two different European quartets, a US/European quartet, and a trio with Drew Gress and Tom Rainey. On this occasion, then, it is safe to predict that he's "a musician we'll be hearing a lot more from in the future."
Personnel: Tony Malaby: tenor saxophone; Samo Salamon: guitar; Mark Helias: bass; Tom Rainey: drums.