Previous collaborations between British-born (though to an Argentinean father and a German mother) reedman Tobias Delius and German pianist Achim Kaufmann include appearances in drummer Christian Lillinger's Grund and in the European version of NYC singer Fay Victor's Herbie Nichols project, so their pairing as part of a co-operative quartet on Frames & Terrains is not without precedent. That's as it should be as their partnership is a marriage made in heaven. Both prefer the road less travelled and bring finely honed maverick sensibilities to play on this limited edition LP (also available as a download).
Delius essays a stream of false fingered notes which are never confined in pitch and veer off in all sorts of choked snuffles, plaintive bleats and generally unexpected tangents. Kaufmann excels at being almost as off center, his chording and asymmetric lines evoking rows of glistening shards. But amid the wayward impulse, they also hit upon reiterated phrases which they bat back and forth in striking conjunctions. Keeping the proceedings towards the free jazz end of the continuum, bassist Dieter Manderscheid punctuates with keen commentary, while drummer Martin Blume lightly demarcates an often shuffling momentum. Both however switch effortlessly between pulse and coloration.
The continuous performance, divided onto two side long cuts, starts in the unhurried conversational mode which predominates. Although tenor saxophone and piano grab the ear, it's a four way exchange. Lovely restrained interplay abounds, absorbing without being overly cerebral and energetic without being strident. One of the pleasures lies in listening to how the spotlights shifts around the group from moment to moment, who leads and who supports. Highlights include the passage for clarinet, arco bass and percussion in which Manderscheid's darkly abrasive bowing matches Delius' arresting cries, and the dashing angular piano trio, eventually joined by tenor saxophone for a demonstrative and celebratory conclusion.
It's a superior demonstration of the art of the unfettered imagination.