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Lucas Niggli & Sylvie Courvoisier: Lavin

Glenn Astarita By

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Keeping in line with “Intakt” records long-standing track record of pairing percussion and piano instrumentalists in duo settings, namely Swiss pianist Irene Schweizer and her collaborations with Han Bennink and others, they offer the modern jazz community this new recording simply titled, Lavin. Here, Swiss-based percussionist Lucas Niggli teams with compatriot pianist Sylvie Courvoisier for a series of duet improvisations that offer varying degrees of nuance, subtleties and altogether cunning if not striking ingenuity. As their respectively diverse backgrounds might suggest, this twosome illustrate an enormous plethora of ideas and concepts which emanates from years of shedding with some of the finest improvisers on the planet. Lucas Niggli is a stylistic drummer-percussionist who has performed and recorded with the great drummer Pierre Favre, guitarist Fred Frith, the late cellist Tom Cora and many others on the International circuit. Ms Courvoisier has performed with drummer Mark Nauseef, cellist Erik Friedlander, violinist Mark Feldman and has been commissioned to produce improvised music on several occasions. Essentially, their respective resumes are too lengthy to cite here as Lavin celebrates the union of two creative spirits seeking out new frontiers while maintaining a high level of excellence throughout.....

On the title track, “Lavin” Lucas Niggli smartly or should we say – sonorously, utilizes his seemingly vast array of cymbals in tandem with Ms Courvoisier’s bowing and plucking of her piano strings which to some extent hearkens or elicits thoughts of the minimalist movement. Here, the duo are quite skillful while providing an abundance of tonal coloration along with acute displays of timbre through refined and sensitive interplay. Niggli’s multifarious utilization of cymbals, bells and dissimilar percussion instruments are at times so soft you could probably hear a pin drop, of course this is partly due to the fantastic, crystal clear recording. Ms Courvoisier strums the piano strings to incite dialogue with Niggli who responds with rimshots, drum-rolls, woodblocks and other assorted percussion instruments as the listener is taken to some unidentifiable location which continues on “Miniature III”. Here, the duo engage in slightly bizarre yet altogether absorbing dialogue through fragmented themes which is also evident on pieces such as “Gate Lane” where piano, and percussion go head to head while the players display intuitiveness whether intercepting or countering each other’s moves. The piece titled, “Black Hole” conveys such a deep spatial void – as imagery once again comes to the forefront with Niggli’s utilization of gongs and low pitched toms. On this piece, Ms Courvoisier institutes briefly stated themes while either strumming the strings or creating a notable sense of depth through delicate and intelligently paced voicings.

Lavin is a splendid outing, which is performed from within and seems to expand outward via at times quiet, delicate and somber passages yet when the duo partake in vigorous dialogue they turn up the intensity level a few notches. The main ingredients here are that of disparate tonalities, color and acute improvisation yet it all sounds so unconstrained and quietly exhilarating. Recommended..........* * * *

Intakt website: www.intaktrec.ch

Title: Lavin | Year Released: 1999 | Record Label: Intakt Records


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