Bassist John Lindberg is best known for his tenure with jazz heavyweights like trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith, and saxophonists Roscoe Mitchell and Anthony Braxton. Equally deserving acclaim are his own swinging but adventurous outfits such as the quartet which waxed A Tree Frog Tonality (between the lines, 2000) and The Catbird Sings (Soul Note, 2000). But none of those will prepare listeners for his duet with Turkish cellist Anil Ereslan. Across seven spontaneously created cuts on a limited edition LP, they explore territory that at times fits as easily into the contemporary classical category as easily as free jazz or improv. Ereslan has made himself at home in the European improvised music sphere, but also plays Turkish traditional music. Together they craft something that's beyond genre.
It goes without saying that stupendous musicianship is on display throughout in a keenly responsive exposition in which both men operate seemingly unlimited by their instrumental choices. Strangely Lindberg often pitches his contributions in a higher register than Ereslan's darkly brooding cello, as at the start of "Stages," blurring conventional notions of support and lead. Overall the mood is cerebral and ascetic as they propose an inner logic which thrives on building tension and subsequent release. Dialogue ensues almost all the time, begetting an intense workout, with the concentration still palpable even when the tempo slows and the dynamics are low.
Yet at times they generate an austere beauty, as during "Blagues Nulles" where episodic swing percolates from an interchange of textures between throbbing bass and droning cello. On "Islak Yayalar" Lindberg varies the character by percussively slapping the body of his bass, contrasting with a thin wavering cello line, before both combine in fiercely interlocking figures. Further rhythmic sequences provide a welcome change of pace, and "Lingo Lingo," where one maintains an insistent pulse while the other extemporizes, making for one of the most accessible passages. Similar ideas launch "Off 3" leading into an exchange by turns lyrical and severe. It's a set which reveals another side of Lindberg's artistry.
Track Listing: Off 1; Blagues Nulles; Stages; Islak Yayalar; Off 4; Lingo Lingo; Off 3.
Personnel: John Lindberg: double bass; Anil Eraslan: cello.
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