Guitarist Samo Šalamon has exhibited a high level of creativity on his recordings. He continues to manifest that trait on this release, his 11th as leader. As before, the material entices, as it moves between laidback tunes that are bathed in a soft glow, or hard permutations that crackle and snap. Add little twists like the times he lets the melody slip in almost perceptibly into the framework, and Almost Almond becomes a lair of delightful aural textures.
The trio is an exceptional one. Bassist Drew Gress and drummer Tom Rainey stoke the fires of invention, urging Šalamon on as he unravels the yarn of inspired improvisation, or show an innate sense of empathy to kindle the flame of intimacy.
Šalamon's crystalline playing is the hallmark of his style. This sonic clarity makes the tunes shine, whether there is a shimmy of chords or open runs. An ebullient mood dances into "Monkey Hands" but he soon moves into a more mercurial ambit on a dazzling run of hard snapping notes, in counterpoint with chunky chords. The tune is transformed and brought to a churning conclusion, with the added impetus of a bristling rhythm section.
"Monderous," dedicated to guitarist Ben Monder, is an astute blend of bop and free movement, Šalamon skittering in a flurry of bop intonations before changing tack to introduce spaced-out free modulations. The concept is not only an observation of Monder's expertise, it also characterizes Šalamon's own proficiency in forging sound and dynamics to his own vision.
Flatted notes and soft shadings are upped into a torrid tempo, before some buzz-saw pyrotechnics and feedback ignite "Dutilleux." Šalamon, however, does not forge a straight-hewn path; instead, he jumps and swerves, revisiting past haunts and then charginginto new territory.
Unexpected harmonics, shifting atmospherics and an insightful instinct make Almost Almond another triumph for Šalamon.
Monkey Hands; Lastovo; My Amusing Muse; Dutilleux; Pleiades; Too Emotional For This World; Drewish; The Small Buddhist; The Ladybird Is Yawning; Monderous; Almost Almond.
Samo Salamon: guitar; Drew Gress: bass; Tom Rainey: drums.
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