On Baza Swedish reedman Martin Kuchen joins forces with Polish acoustic bass guitarist Rafal Mazur for a seat-of-the-pants duet, recorded live at the titular Krakow club. Issued as a limited edition LP, but also available as a download, the program contains two cuts also named after the venue. While Küchen may be best known for his variable-sized Angles ensembles and his part in the co-operative quintet All Included, both of which perform his charts, he is also a formidable improviser and it is this facet of his artistry exposed here. He's ably matched with Mazur, one of Poland's foremost proponents of untethered expression.
Together they create a dialogue which is urgent, raw and moving. "Baza 1," which carries over onto the second side of the LP, demonstrates their command of long form invention. It starts in astringent bursts from Küchen on alto and Mazur wielding his bow, before an especially effective episode contrasts Mazur's fat clipped notes and Küchen's sopranino squawks. While the bassist imparts momentum, the reedman generates a harsh overblown emotional edge, softened as his shrieks turn into whimpers. At times he delivers a visceral charge with vocalizations such that his sound is as much voice as instrument.
After a pause, the piece develops into an extemporized dirge, which recalls one of Küchen's favored compositional modes. Mazur's stately pulse gives wings to the reedman's splintered cries of anguished regret. Küchen briefly blows both horns simultaneously as he transitions from alto to sopranino, ushering in a lengthy closing sequence of indeterminate whistles, mumbles and susurrations which represents the only misstep of the performance. "Baza 2" completes the set in dashing conversational style. Küchen's alto whinnies mesh well with a bass rumble punctuated by electrifying arco swipes. The track ends with another tremendous passage of strangulated multiphonic bleats from the saxophonist, full of life and feeling.
The disc captures an outstanding encounter which presents two men at the height of their powers.
Baza 1; Baza 1 (continued); Baza 2.
Martin Küchen: sopranino and alto saxophones; Rafał Mazur: acoustic bass guitar.
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