Slovenian guitarist Samo Šalamon has earned many accolades throughout his decade-long recording career; listening to Eleven Stories it is quite clear why. A fearless explorer of sonic landscapes, Šalamon and his trio of the past six years presents an exhilarating program of eleven elegiac tracks, each one a gem in its own right.
The somewhat whimsical "Cold Feet" is an intelligent, almost surreal, conversation among the three musicians, during which Šalamon's cool and edgy guitar lines contrast with tubaist Michel Godard's deep and dark choruses and Roberto Dani's invigorating drumming. Šalamon flirts with some rock and roll stylings before the collective improvisation comes to an abrupt and dramatic end.
One of the most agile tubaists in jazz since the virtuosic Ray Draper, Godard possesses a warm and lyrical voice on this cumbersome horn. His intricate and mellifluous solo on the fantastic "Chinese Bath" adds depth and expansiveness, like a wind within which Dani's percussion chimes Šalamon's guitar strings ring.
Godard also showcases his prowess as an electric bassist on "Sour," as he punctuates, with his somber vamps, Šalamon's lilting tone and the Dani's simultaneously visceral and spiritual Dani.
As adventurous as his band mates, Dani is known for pushing the tonal boundaries of his kit; on the contemplative "Kei's Melody," his thudding thrums enhance the ominous ambience of Godard's breathy tuba, while his splashing cymbals brighten Šalamon's shimmering lines.
Not just confined to his compositions, Šalamon's creativity is also exhibited spontaneously. The impressionistic "Sunday" is an angular concerto that starts quietly with Godard's yearning tuba. Then, as the tempo picks up, it grows in lyricism and vibrancy and ends in a nocturnesque lullaby.
In contrast, the more abstract "White Herons on Green Meadows" spotlights Šalamon's harmonically complex extemporizations that set a crepuscular mood. As a bass and drums duo brings in slightly more traditional sounds, Šalamon's meandering guitar remains intellectually stimulating until it comes to a logical conclusion, back into the melody's rhythmic folds.
Šalamon, whose Ornethology (Samo Records 2003) was listed in The Penguin Jazz Guide: The History of the Music in the 1001 Best Albums (Penguin Books 2010), has created a thematically cohesive and versatile opus with his thirteenth disc as a leader. This is yet another work that will surely stand the test of time.
Preface; Sour; Cold Feet; Ducks On Ice; Three; Dark Road; Chinese Bath; White Herons On
Green Meadows; Garlic And Olives; Kei's Melody; Sunday.
Samo Salamon: guitar; Michel Godard: tuba, electric bass; Roberto Dani: drums.
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