Two regular collaborators, alto saxophonist Rob Brown and Argentinean drummer Juan Pablo Carletti, unite in unbridled dialogue on Fertile Garden, a studio date from August 2020. Brown's considerable talents should be well-known, vouchsafed by his tenure in the bands of bassist William Parker over many years and appearances with the likes of drummer Whit Dickey and pianist Matthew Shipp. Since moving to New York City in 2006, Carletti has become a fixture on the Brooklyn scene, where he teamed up with reedman Tony Malaby and cellist Christopher Hoffman for his well received debut Niño/Brujo (NoBusiness Records, 2014).
The pair demonstrate their powers of spontaneous invention across two lengthy conversational cuts on which Brown's distinctive sour sweet tone and narrative flow again stand out. Although joint concoctions, Carletti seems content to lay out a throbbing rhythmic carpet which gives loft to Brown's fluidly uncoiling lines, rather than push the agenda himself. Even when Brown drops out, Carletti continues at the same pace, his stuttering cadences illuminated by his tunefully pitched drums and cymbals.
Of course that is no bad thing when Brown is on such good form. On the 33-minute "6BC" he takes his time stating his case through short phrases initially, then languorous long tones subtly modulated, which dip into the lower end before extending into undulating streams, sporadically doubling back on themselves, taking repeated run-ups to the altissimo register until, at the climax, he frays the notes in expressive multiphonic bursts. Carletti matches the dynamics, but resists the temptation to roil and burn, instead maintaining tension through his jittery pulsation.
"Children's Magical Garden" could be a continuation of the first track except, abetted by Carletti's loose groove, there is even more of a dancing quality to Brown's runs. That is accentuated by the occasional boppish lick, before ultimately the piece takes on a slightly wistful demeanor, albeit one which nontheless culminates in a series of husky squawks. Theirs is an empathetic pairing which feels as if it has plenty more to say.
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