In the 1980s, American writer John Corbett traveled Europe searching for out-of-print LPs from small labels which he eventually produced reissues titled the Unheard Music Series first for Atavistic Records
, then his own Corbett vs. Dempsey
label. His mission was to preserve the music which formed the jazz and improvisation canon but was largely ignored, simply because it wasn't produced by major labels. Enter Inexhaustible Editions
and its sub-label Edition FriForma, much like those small labels Corbett helped preserve, is a true labor of love. Label chief Lászlo Juhász from Ljubljana, Slovenia produces not only these free improvisation sessions, but also organizes concerts. His contribution to the documentation and preservation of creative music is quite noble. Below is a sampling of his label's impressive output.
Carl Ludwig Hübsch / Phil Minton Metal Breath
The inquiry made in a game of 20 questions is quite often "is it animal, plant, or mineral?" While the duo of Carl Ludwig Hubsch
and Phil Minton
suggest an answer of mineral + animal with their title Metal Breath
, I'm quite convinced they also deal with a plant element in this live duo recording from 2016 at Ort in Wuppertal, Germany.
The duo format may be the preferred setting to hear both of these artists. Hübsch's tuba, although heard in large ensembles like Alexander von Schlippenbach
's Globe Unity Orchestra, Ensemble X, and Multiple Joyce Orchestra, is best heard in smaller more intimate settings. He has developed a sound beyond his instrument, much like Axel Dorner
and Peter Evans
have done with the trumpet. Speaking of beyond, vocalist Phil Minton has expanded what we understand the human voice is capable of. This octogenarian may be the most idiosyncratic vocalist, dare we say improviser, on any instrument working in free improvisation.
The pair find pleasant patterns with which to work in these two lengthy and one brief performances. Breathy horn sounds are matched by stuttering gargles, which are countered with percussive knocks on brass and plaintive exhalations. How is it that Minton has so many voices and modes of expression? He can whistle, hum, chortle, vocalize and vocal-ease. But then, so can Hübsch.
Markus Krispel / Matija Schellander / Szilveszter Miklós Put
A terrific surprise is the recording Put
by an assembled trio. It appears that label chief Lászlo Juhász had a hand in bringing together Austrian saxophonist Markus Krispel, Austrian with Slovenian roots bassist Matija Schellander, and Hungarian drummer Szilveszter Miklós for a series of performances under the Borderless Dissonance moniker in Budapest, Ljubljana and Vienna. First let's credit Juhász for the vision, then applaud the fruits of this collaboration.
Recorded live at Vodnikova Domačija Šiška in Ljubljana in May 2017, this single set of 41-minutes of music draws upon the same traditions as those early Workshop Freie Musik concerts in Berlin of the 1970s. But this music, in a more noisy way, calls to mind the manner in which the Australian trio The Necks builds a performance. That is, by way of momentum. Their stealthy entrance of quiet bowed bass, breath forward saxophone and stirred cymbal invites a closer, albeit quiet attentiveness. Maybe you're not familiar with Schellander's work in Bulbul (a noise rock band) and Krispel's gig in a metal band, because yes we are going to get loud here. Thunderous yes, but like the aforementioned The Necks, this trio keeps to the script. If there were such a thing as a script in free jazz. What we have here is coherence. They present logical and consistent improvisation throughout.
Jason Mears / Stephen Flinn Irreversible Motions
Unpack your electron microscopes for this recording by saxophonist Jason Mears and percussionist Stephen Flinn, two musicians currently living in New York City. The microscope use is not so much because this music is quiet, it's that you might want to witness the subatomic particles revolving around the nucleus of sound they create. The five tracks evolve in an unhurried manner on Irreversible Motions
with a progressive increase in tension and energy.
Mears' saxophone can be heard in Harris Eisenstadt
's Canada Day, The Empty Cage Quartet, and Anthony Braxton
's Trillium E Orchestra. His sound here can be placed on a continuum somewhere between that of Evan Parker
and David Rothenberg
. He makes use of circular breathing with vibrating vocalizations which can at time pose as avian creatures before dispersing as electricity. If Mears is a practitioner of circular breathing, so is Flinn in sound if not breath. His approach to percussion, at least on the first four tracks is to create a perpetual vibration by way of scraping and bowing of cymbals. His version of circular breathing compliments Mears by ratcheting up tension on "Atomists" and providing a backdrop on "Looping Through Time." The sound can be quiet or subversively ferocious, both forms are carbonated.
Birgit Ulher / Chistoph Schiller Tulpe Schicht Brille
A practice often repeated in Buddhist meditation is to allow your visual field to open as wide as possible, taking in your surroundings as if looking at a two dimensional plane, such as a mirror. This exercise if repeated, begins to allow one to then turn attention around. Once aimed at oneself, you might find there is no one looking. In effect, no self. That same operation can applied to the other senses. Tulpe Schicht Brille
by the German duo of Birgit Ulher
and Chistoph Schiller is a perfect vehicle for a similar auditory meditation practice.
Their minimalist free improvisation interaction involves some unique instruments and some traditional instruments applied in unique ways. Ulher's trumpet, like that of fellow countryman Axel Dorner
, takes on a machine-like quality sometimes opting for breath over notes. Schiller's spinet plays like a found piece of industrial machinery. Without a visual it is often not possible to sort out which player is doing what. With objects and electronics in the mix, the listener is required to disperse any preconceived notions. The music and your approach to listening, calls for a wide open posture. One that allows the impossible to be possible and the infinitesimal to become grand.
Benjamín Vergara / Fred Lonberg-Holm / Aaron Zarzutzki Five Arias For Nalca
This set of five free improvisations recorded at Elastic performance space in Chicago offers a well balanced soundstage. This affords the three musicians, Benjamín Vergara (trumpet), Fred Lonberg-Holm
(cello), and Aaron Zarzutzki (synthesizer and objects) the physical space to be heard. Let's attribute this to placement of microphones and engineered balance of this fine recording. Why note the layout of the sound reproduction? Because it is essential to the experience of this music.
Veteran of free improvisation, Lonberg-Holm is joined by two new names in improvisation, the Chilean Vergara and Chicagoan Zarzutzki. Zarzutzki can be heard on sessions with Tim Daisy
and Dave Rempis
and Vergara released The Hallowed Plant
(Relative Pitch Records, 2018).
The sounds are built mostly upon cautious advancements. Each "Aria" is constructed of tactile bowing, staccato plucks, slurred trumpet, electro colour splashes and more importantly interactions. "Aria V" is wound around Lonberg-Holm's bowing which chases butterflies and Zarzutzki's (seemingly) random generated synthesizer hiccups. It is Vergara's trumpet that keeps some semblance of time here with popping pursed trumpet notes. "Aria III" stretches lengthy notes by all three musicians before the trio each heads in a different direction. Not that the wanderings don't fit together, it is just another way for the players to expand the auditory landscape they are mining.
Xavier Charles / Éric Normand Avis Aux Réacteurs
Xavier Charles / Éric Normand Avis Aux Réacteurs
Entrée............. Compresseur............. Combustion............. Turbine............. Réducteur............. Tuyère............. Poussée.
Xavier Charles and Éric Normand practice the art of the parboil, not as in cooking, but the craft of free improvisation crescendo. This single 35-minute track has in fact several boiling points. In the hands of lesser talents well, the banquet of sound might be overcooked. Charles' clarinet has been heard solo, in duo settings with Terrie Ex and Otomo Yoshihide, in the super group Contest of Pleasures (with Axel Dorner
and John Butcher
), and in the very large Ensemble X. His approach to the finicky clarinet is to surf the very edges of the instrument from the very quiet to overblown notes. By teaming up with bassist Éric Normand, Charles has invoked Sir Isaac Newton's third law, which states for every action force there is an equal and opposite reaction force.
Normand's main instrument is a modified bass which (it appears) he augments with objects. His sound eschews pulse for textures commonly associated with percussionists. The pair thread a continual tension between themselves. Twittered notes are countered with scrubbing clangs and Charles' overblown clarinet finds itself accompanied by some shredded bass lines. The advance and retreat of these processes throughout act as short respites from the duos encounters. It is only when they have exhausted all avenues do they sever the sound with an abrupt stop.
Tracks and Personnel Metal Breath
Tracks: Copper; Zinc And Blood; Flesh.
Personnel: Carl Ludwig Hübsch: tuba; Phil Minton: voice. Put
Personnel: Markus Krispel: alto saxophone, baritone saxophone; Matija Schellander: double bass; Szilveszter Miklós: drums. Irreversible Motions
Tracks: Atomists; Looping Through Time; Truth; Real Legacy; The Works.
Personnel: Jason Mears: saxophones; Stephen Flinn: percussion. Tulpe Schicht Brille
Tracks: Pollergebiet; Tulpe Schicht Brille; Hohltier; Licht Pilot; Teich Tisch Leib.
Personnel: Birgit Ulher: trumpet, radio, speaker, objects; Chistoph Schiller: spinet, electronics, objects. Five Arias For Nalca
Tracks: Aria I; Aria II; Aria III; Aria IV; Aria V.
Personnel: Benjamín Vergara: trumpet; Fred Lonberg-Holm: cello; Aaron Zarzutzki: synthesizer, objects. Avis Aux Réacteurs
Tracks: Entrée............. Compresseur............. Combustion............. Turbine............. Réducteur............. Tuyère............. Poussée.
Personnel: Xavier Charles: clarinet; Éric Normand: electric bass, objects.