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Daniele D'Agaro, Giovanni Maier, Zlatko Kaućić: Disorder at the Border Plays Ornette

Nicola Negri By

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Ornette Coleman's compositions have been reinterpreted many times and by all kind of musicians, often with less than optimal results. His pieces, deceptively simple on the surface, have always some aspects that are quite difficult to grasp, and they are so personal that sometimes they seem to work only if the author (or some of his closest associates) is involved... Exceptions exist of course, and one of the most successful recent attempts at "playing Ornette" is this new record by the italian-slovenian trio Disorder at the Border (pun definitely intended).

The instrumentation is nothing exotic—woodwinds, bass and drums—and yet, the multiple colors available in Daniele D'Agaro's instrumentation, supported and propelled by Giovanni Maier's resonant bass and the energetic drumming of Zlatko Kaućić, give the proceedings an instantly engaging quality, thanks also to the immediate, lively quality of the recording, that captures the trio's performance at the Italian "Jazz & Wine of Peace Festival" in October 2015.
There's a strong connection to Ornette's first acoustic ensembles, but the compositions chosen here are atypical for this kind of projects—they come from later phases of Coleman's career and they were often recorded with completely different instrumentations. This contrast serves the music well, indeed, presenting familiar themes in completely different incarnations, revealing in the process new details and possible interpretations.

"New York" begins with the distinctive theme played on the tenor sax, supported by the polyrhythms of bass and drums, and then develops in different sections alternating between tight free-bop exchanges and textural pianissimo excursions made of atonal contrabass pizzicatos and bass clarinet ruminations, slowly building a steady rhythm just to pulverize it again in simultaneous sonic explorations.
The rest of the record is equally engaging—the rubato approach and delicate clarinet lines perfectly capture the melancholic subtext of "Mob Job," while on "Him & Her" the musicians build at first a complex, abstract three-way dialogue, finally liberating the groove in the second part of the piece. The record ends with "Comme Il Faut," that summarizes the overall character of the album, framing a richly textured suspended section with bluesy, groove oriented materials, and the inevitable, but always well calibrated, bursts of pure energy. All three musicians are technically impeccable and inventive improvisers, and throughout the album they approach Coleman's idiosyncratic compositions with unusual confidence and a refreshing spontaneity, never losing sight of the lyrical and exuberant character of the originals while putting their personal indelible mark on them.

Track Listing: New York; Mob Job; Faithful; The Garden of Souls; Him & Her; Comme il Faut.

Personnel: Daniele D’Agaro: alto & tenor sax, clarinet & bass clarinet; Giovanni Maier: double bass; Zlatko Kaučič: drums and percussion.

Title: Disorder at the Border Plays Ornette | Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: Not Two Records

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