Lucian Ban & Alex Simu: Free Fall

Glenn Astarita By

Sign in to view read count
Lucian Ban & Alex Simu: Free Fall
Inspired by legendary clarinetist Jimmy Giuffre's small group recordings, Romanians Lucian Ban (piano) and Alex Simu (clarinet) recorded these luminous duets at The French Cultural Institute in Bucharest, as they personalize the aura of Giuffre's comingling of chamber and modern jazz with sojourns into experimentalism.

It's a gorgeous endeavor, executed with tender harmonic content, reflective passages and heartwarming melodies. From an all-inclusive perspective, the musicians ingrain bluesy phrasings, buoyant mid-tempo jaunts and impassioned choruses, shaded with playful interludes and shifting discourses amid an abundance of counter-maneuvers and sober musings. Indeed, they project a congruent musical partnership.

On Giuffre's "Jesus Maria" the duo enacts a moody ballad due to Simu's sublime phrasings and Ban's melodic comping of the primary theme, yet they add a bit of tension with a light touch and throttle the pitch in spots. However, "Mysteries" is driven by the pianist's lower register ostinato, offset by the clarinetist's swirling lines, ascending into the upper-registers where he coalesces with Ban's fragile voicings.

"The Pilgrim" is ignited with Simu's dry, popping bass clarinet notes, as Ban provides a colorful contrast via his ringing harmonics for a piece that intimates a semblance of curiosity or venturing towards a mysterious destination. Simu advances toward a bluesy schematic tempered with a two-note motif that segues to the artists' regeneration of the primary hook with animated and jazzy improvisational tactics in addition to gospel inflections. Essentially, the musicians inject quietly penetrating storylines with airy backdrops and a laid-back gait. For sure, this delightful and irrefutably tuneful album offers quite a bit of replay value, presented by musicians who instill the spirit of Giuffre with a personalized spin that works wonders.

Track Listing

Quiet Storm; Free Fall; Jesus Maria; Mysteries; Near; The Pilgrim; Cry, Want; Used to Be.


Lucian Ban: piano; Alex Simu: clarinet and bass clarinet.

Album information

Title: Free Fall | Year Released: 2019 | Record Label: Sunnyside Records

Post a comment about this album


Shop Amazon


Read Prickly Pear Cactus
Prickly Pear Cactus
Ikue Mori / Satoko Fujii / Natsuki Tamura
Read Time OutTakes
Time OutTakes
Dave Brubeck Quartet
Read In Baltimore
In Baltimore
The George Coleman Quintet

All About Jazz needs your support

All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, shelter in place and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary effort that will help musicians now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the bottom right video ad). Thank you.

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.