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Alexey Kruglov: Identification

Glenn Astarita By

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Since the advent of the legendary Ganelin Trio, Russia's avant-garde impetus has made significant leaps since the Cold War era of the 1970s. One young artist continuing in this mode is saxophonist and multi-instrumentalist Alexey Kruglov. With his fourth date as a leader, he intermittently performs on two saxophones at once, and puts the mouthpieces aside during several movements. Kruglov also switches between piano, percussion and saxophones on the fly, sans any overdubs. But the primary differentiator is that Kruglov does not engage in gimmickry for its own sake.

After listening to this strikingly imaginative avant-jazz program, it is clear that Kruglov possesses a dynamic persona, in concert with a seemingly endless array of guileful musical concepts, centered on the title track which is one continuous piece. He crosscuts free-jazz improvisation with John Cage-like treatments and dysfunctional classicism. Indeed, he marches to the beat of a different drummer.

"Identification" is an ambitious musical statement, firmly implanted in the avant-garde. Consisting of blistering sax parts and the uncanny sounds emanating from his performances without using a mouthpiece, where notes become morphed together, he also embeds prepared piano choruses in choice spots.

Kruglov's rhythm section works along the same train of thought. Hence, the band also elicits some far-out concepts and darkly woven atmospherics. The saxophonist's muscular mode of operations is often predicated on brain-rattling improvisational segments and a barreling impetus. Kruglov's musings seem to illustrate a sense of life's experiences, both pro and con. He often slashes through passages with a serrated edge amid linear melodic content as the rhythm section's asymmetrical pulses either ensnare the proceedings or assist with integrating abrupt pauses or adding some wit and humor to the festivities.

With moments of near quietude and a sequence of musical puzzles via alternating themes and avant-garde like dirges, Kuglov varies his persona by toggling between rough-hewn gyrations and sonorous interludes. The program may at times seem crazed, but there's surely a method to the artist's deviously enacted progressions. He's self-effacing, which is a component that adds an underlying and somewhat subliminal projection of kindheartedness to this high-octane celebration.

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