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Two Sounds Ensemble: Inversions I - VI

Dan McClenaghan By

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There's something to be said for restraint in the arena of freely improvised music. Much of the free jazz out there flirts a little too heavily with the chaotic and discordant, with dissonant noise. For these sets the word "daunting" and the phrase "not for the faint of heart" are often used.

Sweden's TSE—Two Sounds Ensemble—reigns in its free jazz vision with laudable restraint, with a lovely wandering progression in its instantly composed music that stays appealingly within earshot of the lyrical and melodic musical path, stretching structure without breaking it.

Stephan Wistrand blows soprano and tenor saxophones; Joakim Simonsson plays piano. The Swedish duo—both players have backgrounds in jazz, free improvisation and rock—stay mostly mid-tempo on a set of introspective and ruminative tunes; and like all good improvising units, they listen to and respond to each other's statements.

Simonssen brings Satoko Fujii's piano work to mind at times, shifting from passages that are poetic and melodic and lyrical into riffs that sweetly sting; while Wistrand's sax work stays straightforward, robust on the tenor, with a mainstream feel in spite of the meandering atmosphere.

The tunes, I - VI, range in length from a minute and a half to fourteen minutes plus, and I find the two longer pieces the most rewarding, with the duo exploring all the permutations of the improvisational scene they set.

One of the most accessible and enjoyable free jazz sets this year.


Track Listing: Inversions I Through VI

Personnel: Stephan Wistrand--tenor and soprono saxophones; Joakim Simonssen--piano

Title: Inversions I - VI | Year Released: 2004 | Record Label: Einnicken Records


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