Slovenian guitarist Samo Salamon is not content to rest on his laurels or enviable chops. His two-CD set, Stretching Out (Sazas, 2013), was a fierce progressive jazz and improvisational implosion featuring his work with US and European quartets. Free Strings: Orchestrology signifies a 360-degree turnaround with a core trio and collaboration with the Slovene Philharmonic String Chamber Orchestra, highlighting Janez Podlesek's solo violin passages. Salamon's thirst for exploring variable forms of artistic expression is a multifaceted exposition, combining third stream underpinnings with avant jazz improvisation and a heterogeneous brew, modeled with asymmetrical doses of freedom and convention.
Interspersed with moments of quietude, containing sweet string movements, delicate theme constructions, and tuneful choruses amid some accelerando-like developments, Salamon conveys a worldly, uninhibited viewpoint via this disparate program. At times, loose and free with his edgy and sometimes portentous electric guitar voicings, the artist hops into various musical climates on a per-track basis. His stinging distortion-tinged solo spots add beefy overtones to various works with a few 4/4 pulses and some serious shredding. However, the leader and his cohorts work as a unit when considering the classical element, and do not operate as opposing forces.
"Rhapsody" draws semblances to George Gershwin's body of work, more so from an ideological perspective via an Americana-shaded classical stance, and comes as a welcome surprise midway through the album. Otherwise, in true jazz fashion, the guitarist engages in soaring call and response segments with the orchestra. On the final piece "Devil's Darling," Salamon imports a Pat Metheny- ish heartland vibe, counterbalanced by the orchestra's blustery choruses. Ultimately, he sustains interest throughout this vast musical plane that warmly amalgamates proven applications and concepts with a modern spin and keeps you on the edge. Each track communicates a different storyline, so he also embeds an element of suspense into the grand schema.
Hebe; Seagulls in Maine; Three Stories; Dutilleux; White Herons on
Green Meadows; Miss Sarcasm; Rhapsody; Moonless; Number of Circles;
Fall Memories; Mea Culpa; Kei's Secret; Devil's Darling.
Samo Salamon: guitar; Roberto Dani: drums; Janez Podlesek: solo
violin; Vera Belic: first violin; Monika Ivancev: first violin; Matic
Anzej: first violin; Oliver Dizdarevic Skrabar: second violin; Ziga
Cerar: second violin; Rado Steharnik: second violin; Bojan Erjavec:
second violin; Maja Rome: viola; Maja Babnik Ravnikar: viola; Tomaz
Malej: viola; Igor Skerjanec: cello; Klemen Hvala: cello; Petar
Brcarevic: double bass.