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Samo Salamon: Kei's Secret

Budd Kopman By

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Kei's Secret, a smoking live set from Slovenia, while clearly coming from the same root, could not be more different from Samo Salamon's previous album, Two Hours (FSNT, 2006). On that record, three terrific musicians got together with the guitarist on short notice and recorded what turned out to be some very fine music. The wonder of the record is that there is no hint of the means of its birth.

Kei's Secret presents a band that sounds well-traveled; its members are totally comfortable with each other and able to switch gears instantly, despite touring for only a month. They also like to have fun while letting loose with passionate music in many styles. Drama reigns supreme, and virtually every note has an exciting drive attached to it. This is the kind of show where you know you have heard something special and go home floating, coming down only hours later.

Every member of the band is strong. Reedman Achille Succi played with Salamon before on Ela's Dream (Splasc(h), 2005) and Ornethology (Samo Records, 2003), and his slightly acrid tone and total freedom fit the music perfectly. Super-solid bassist Carlo DeRosa leads his own group and plays in many other bands, including those of Dave Allen, Allison Miller and Victor Prieto. Drummer Tyshawn Sorey has his own group, Oblique (with Russ Lossing, Loren Stillman and Carlo DeRosa) and has also teamed up with Vijay Iyer. Salomon himself has no technical limitations and is as free a musician as they come.

Salomon's music draws from many different styles, but is always finely crafted. Each tune has a personality and a structure that allows for open-ended improvisation while maintaining a sense of shape and direction. Instrumentally, his style is quite recognizable, despite his eclectic tastes and constantly changing tone. Sometimes he will unfurl a long-limbed, graceful melody, as on "Kei's Secret," while at other timess his playing will be all small-note groups and repeated gestures. Salomon can be harmonically quite adventurous, work through simpler changes, or just groove on a vamp.

The set has quite a few high points: the amazing interplay between DeRosa and Sorey on "Catch The Train," Salomon's distorted guitar solo on "When We Go Away," and Succi's ecstatic playing on "Miss Sarcasm" and "A Step Back." Sorey, a big man with a drummer's metronome, maintains the pulse while the polyrhythms fly; he's on fire every second.

Joy was in the room that night, and we are fortunate to be able to bathe in it through this fabulous, highly recommended recording.

Track Listing: When We Go Away; Catch the Train; The Return to X-Land; Miss Sarcasm; Kei

Personnel: Achille Succi: alto saxophone, bass clarinet, clarinet; Samo Salamon: guitar; Carlo DeRosa: bass; Tyshawn Sorey: drums.

Title: Kei's Secret | Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: Splasc(H) Records

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