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Zlatko Kaućić / Milko Lazar: Ena / One

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Pianist/saxophonist Milko Lazar comments on the music presented live on Ena / One: "Music from this album is a result of total improvisation. No words, no rehearsals, no expectations... Just pure communication. As such, it is designed for a creative listener who seeks a path into the unknown."

Lazar performs with percussionist Zlatko Kaućić (really Kaučič) at Kulturni dom Nova Gorica in November, 2013 and Stara mestna elektrarna Ljubljana in March, 2014 before very receptive audiences.

Excellently recorded, each track inhabits its own sound world and energy intensity as the two master improvisers interact in real time, producing living, breathing music that flows and recedes, develops and releases, rises and falls. As such, this music is quite easy to listen to (for this genre) primarily because the music and sounds connect up through time to produce a scaffold of structure which the listener can recognize and follow. Furthermore, much of the music is tonal in the sense of a root note around which the proceeding revolve.

Lazar and Kaučič read each other's intentions almost presciently producing sounds that feel unified and whole, with a beginning, middle and end. For the most part the piano is played normally, although Lazar does play prepared piano at times, while Kaučič's percussion "set" (which he calls "ground drums") (seen here) produces many sounds, some eerily vocal (he does indeed vocalize sometimes while he plays).

The tracks, which all have names (except one) that contain "ena" and "one" tend to flow together, creating two multi-part performances (tracks 1-7 and 8-13) which can be heard and appreciated much like aural chapters. The longest track "Dvo ena / Double One," coming in at just under eleven minutes is positively euphoric, producing a strong sense of rapture and of soaring flight.

The second concert begins with "Refletiva" (track 8) that is almost shocking in its simple and direct harmonic progressions, after what has come before. However this is the second audience's first piece, and they might have been (perhaps purposely) confused when confronted with a "hymn" at what was supposed to be a "free" concert. However, as the last notes die out, the free form patterns return as expected with the short, introductory-like "Malo ješprena / One Barley" that leads to the dramatic "Pena 2 / Zone 2" with its flitting melodic figures above a plucked-string drone. The saxophone/vocal duo of the ending "Enakost / One Bone" is delightfully surprising.

Lazar and Kaučič are masters of complete, interdependent improvisation, producing in Ena / One music that is intelligent, exhilarating, beautiful and, perhaps most importantly, easily enjoyable, most notably by the cheering audience.

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