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Biggi Vinkeloe: Elegans & Suspension

Elliott Simon By

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Vinkeloe/Smith/Nordeson
Elegans
Nuscope Recordings
2005


CBD Trio
Suspension
Rastascan Records
2006


International free-jazzwoman Biggi Vinkeloe's current two offerings feature her often times subtle alto saxophone and flute in the context of two very different trios. Born in Germany, Vinkeloe lived in France from the mid '70s through the mid '80s, subsequently resettling to Sweden where she currently resides. Along the way, she developed in tandem with a European free-improv scene that acquired its own distinct character.

Here, she continues to evince a European's assimilationist view of free-improv music that is perhaps a refreshing result of the music's greater inclusion in the general European jazz landscape. Her breadth and West Coast/European communal spirit is apparent and much in evidence on both Elegans and Suspension. With the former, she brings together a decidedly international trio recorded in Oakland, Calif. while the latter is a trio with two Americans that was founded in Oakland but recorded in Sweden.

Elegans is about intimacy and reflection. Its short improvs include duets that reveal graceful pairings of exquisite tone and timbre. Bassist Damon Smith and percussionist/vibraphonist Kjell Nordeson, like Vinkeloe, bring a host of delicate colors on their respective musical palettes. Unhurried pieces like "Today the Sun is Blue pair subtle arco bass with alto soliloquy, a theme that is repeated and joined by fragile vibe coloration. The title piece extends out a bit and, in large part due to Nordeson's coaxing, stresses independence as Vinkeloe ultimately finds the blues. Beautiful combinations of bass with vibes or flute give parts of the session a relaxing air as short emotive personal vignettes are played out. Vinkeloe does display some of her prodigious chops on Elegans - witness the free-bop of later tracks "Carmin Fragile and "Lueur Bas Rouge - but like the coloration of its CD, cover art and packaging, it is the bluesier session.

As blue as Elegans is, Suspension is just as pink. Extended pieces allow a building of tension urged on by Chris Brown's piano paired with electronics and drummer Donald Robinson's equal voice. "Alap has Vinkeloe's flute summoning up seemingly ancient Indian spirits that flow into a slowly building and ultimately cacophonous "Crescendo . Flute flits and darts around Brown's piano theme as "Shuffle (1) moves along at a quick pace with "Shuffle (2) placing alto in a similar context. While "Outside/Inside is primarily a forum for independent noodling, "Don's Song is hot power with Vinkeloe shining on alto, Robinson singing out on drum set and Brown linking the two with carefully placed electronics and notes. These are both strong sessions from a free yet integrative musical perspective.


Tracks and Personnel

Elegans

Tracks: Today, the Sun is Blue; Nattens Ljus; Elegans; Au Petit Matin; Joliesse; Dwarswind; Separation; Lucidity; Parish; Chiche!; Kinkajou; Carmin Fragile; Lueur Bas Rouge; At the End of the Rainbow.

Personnel: Biggi Vinkeloe: alto saxophone, flute; Damon Smith: double bass; Khell Nordeson: drums, vibraphone.

Suspension

Tracks:Alap; Crescendo; Shuffle (1); Don's song; Outside/Inside; Shuffle (2).

Personnel: Chris Brown: piano, electronics; Biggi Vinkeloe: alto saxophone, flute; Donald Robinson: drums.

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