The pan-European Sudo Quartet is comprised of four true heroes of free improvisation: French double bassist Joëlle Léandre; Portugese violinist Carlos Zingaro; Italian trombonist Sebi Tramontana; and German drummer Paul Lovens. All have played together in various formats for more than two decades, playing contemporary music, free jazz and spontaneous, on-the-spot improvisations, expanding the spectrum of the musical language of their instruments through innovative techniques. All are gifted with compelling performance personalities.
This live recording from a concert in March 2011 at Salle Pablo Neruda, in the Bobigny suburb of Paris, reunites these four old friends for a spectacular set of five improvisations. As can be imagined, all four are aware of each others' personal characteristics and know the best dynamics for such a setting; still, the interplay sounds fresh, intense and risk taking. There is no obvious narrative, no dominant leader and no rhythmic pattern; instead, careful yet instant development of myriad ideas flow, a sonic research of the timbre and sounds of the instruments with a flair for drama and irony.
The tension is accumulated on the first and longest improvisation, the 20-minute "Sudo 1," through brief, complementing articulations, but at the same time these sonic gestures subvert any attempt to turn them into grandiose structures. Dissonance, surprising turns and humor are used, especially when Léandre adds her operatic, gibberish vocals. "Sudo 2" begins as a loosely structured chamber trio suite challenged by an imaginative pulse maker, but is soon reconstructed with spare and abstract interplay. Both improvisations stress the political aspect of free improvisation: resistance surrendering to any musical conventions or structure; a healthy skepticism of all sonic expression; and an admirable insistence to create music that demands full attention and commitment.
The remaining three improvisations are much shorter, with "Sudo 3" an energetic burst of ideas. "Sudo 4" is relaxed reflection on past improvisations, highlighting the telepathic interplay between all four, while "Sudo 5" is a remarkable conclusion of this sonic journey, somber and thoughtful in spirit, as if regretting that this sonic journey had to end so soon.
An exemplary, free-improvised performance.
Sudo 1; Sudo 2; Sudo 3; Sudo 4; Sudo 5.
Joëlle Léandre: bass; Carlos Zingaro: violin; Sebi Tramontana: trombone; Paul Lovens: drums.