By splitting the program between two different bass-less trios connected to opposite sides of the Atlantic, Slovenian guitarist Samo Salamon has managed to bridge the continental divide on Duality. This project could turn into a compare-and-contrast session on the music made by the two groups, alternately dubbed the "US Trio" and "European Trio," and that line of thinking, while merely providing one way of looking at the music, has merit. Salamon may helm both trios, but each group has a distinctive sound and style which sheds light on different facets of the guitarist's work.
Salamon has a fearless approach to guitar playing and writing that often marks him as an avant-garde thrill seeker when he tangles with the Americans, but he is a melody man at heart. His gentle guitar musings on the lone solo track ("Road To Nantucket") linger in the mind's heart long after the song has ended, but they're replaced by saxophonist Achille Succi's engrossing work when the European Trio arrives at "Nantucket." Succi and drummer Roberto Dani have each worked with Salamon on numerous occasions before, and their familiarity with him pays dividends on this project. Succi's saxophone takes on a tart quality that suits the music well when Salamon demands more heat, but he often provides a reedist's repose when the trio needs a break from the fast lane. His bass clarinet work brings welcome contrast to the program, and both of his horns blend well with Salamon's guitar. Dani has a deep understanding of Salamon's artistic process and intent, and he can act as a colorist or catalyst, depending on how the mood suits him.
While the European Trio dominates the program, performing on seven of the eleven tracks, the US contingent proves to be the more domineering of the two units. American improvisers may often be accused of being more conservative than their European counterparts, but alto saxophonist Tim Berne and drummer Tom Rainey turn that theory on its head here. Pungent sounds, fractured and knotty riffs, angular lines and torrential downpours of notes come into play when this trio takes center stage. They mix the esoteric with the exciting to good effect on "Mea Culpa" and elsewhere, but their music can also be a bit exhausting at times. While that fact may or may not account for Salamon's decision to give more space to the European Trio, it certainly allows them to bring the American's fire under control, while also showing the guitarist to be as shrewd an album programmer as he is a guitarist and composer.
Blistering; Flying Potatoes; Mea Culpa; Twists And Turns; Falcon's Flight; Roofs In The City; Kei's Garden; Road To Nantucket; Nantucket; The Weight Of One Daisy; Asking For A Break.
Samo Salamon: guitar; Tim Berne: alto saxophone (1-4); Tom Rainey: drums (1-4); Achille Succi: alto saxophone (5-7, 9), bass clarinet (10, 11); Roberto Dani: drums (5-11).