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The free improvisational quartet Das B releases its first recording Canopy, taken from a live performance at the Festival Konfrontationen, in Nickelsdorf, Austria 2017. Formed in 2015, the 'B' refers to Berlin, the nexus of activity for the four musicians heard here. The two Australians, drummer Tony Buck and bassist Mike Majkowski, join the Beirut-born trumpeter Mazen Kerbaj and Berlin-native pianist Magda Mayas in what is a natural development of the musicians' ongoing Berlin collaborations. Buck, maybe best known for his trio The Necks, has also collaborated with Axel Dorner, Alessandro Bosetti, and Kumiko Takara/Massimo Pupillo/Paal Nilssen-Love among others. His duo with Mayas is known as Spill. The pianist can also be heard in a solo setting, in duo with Christine Abdelnour, the trio Great Waitress, and in the Splitter Orchestra Berlin with Majkowski.
It is a safe bet this quartet commenced with the arrival of Mazen Kerbaj from Lebanon. Since moving to Berlin, his collaborations have been copious and diverse, working with Eddie Prevost, John Tilbury, Burkhard Beins, Toshimaru Nakamura, and Frank Gratkowski, among many others. It is funny because for most of this recording identifying a trumpet sound is difficult. Kerbaj is an exponent of micro and minimalist improvisation. His flutter and breath expressions with his bell in water keep the 36-minute title track on the quiet side for most of the performance. Both Mayas and Majkowski exploit the material corpus of their instruments, Mayas inside her piano and Majkowski at the wood frame and textures of his bass strings. Buck's cymbals and bells act as currents of air upon which his bandmates float. He briefly returns to that cymbal pulse he calls on often with The Necks. The quartet's brief detour into clamor resembles "Time" from Pink Floyd's Dark Side Of The Moon (Harvest, 1973). Then again, maybe it doesn't, but traveling through the dream world constructed by Das B you might be open to just about anything happening.
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