In 2009 the innovative saxophonist Jon Raskin teamed up with like-minded pianist Georg Graewe and drummer Kjell Nordeson for an electrifying concert which, in a curious foreshadowing of 2020, was live-streamed online. This was Raskin's third performance on internet radio, and he released the resulting recording, the provocative Live at NIR Studios, as a digital download in March of 2021.
The five interconnected, spontaneous compositions, each bearing a mysterious and intriguing title, brim with vibrant and dramatic tension. "A Great Harness For A Horse'' opens with Raskin's mournful saxophone. Graewe's sparse keys resonate in the surrounding silence as Nordeson's sticks and cymbals reverberate against one another, adding to the expectant ambience. Galloping percussion, angular keys and agile sopranino lines intersect and overlap for a delightfully dissonant sonic tapestry. Exchanges among the three men become more fiery, yet the effusive passion is tempered with creative intelligence. There are also moments which showcase each musician's brilliant individuality, such as Graewe's contemplative and virtuosic solo that ushers in the conclusion.
Meanwhile, the somber "A City Full of Talking Faces" starts off with poignant emotion and an ethereal sound. Nordeson's darkly hued polyrhythms propel the tune. Raskin, on baritone sax, contributes sinewy and simmering phrases while Graewe lays down dense chords for a haunting effect. The eloquent and spirited conversation is simultaneously furious and restrained, peppered with hints of melancholy.
Nordeson's thunderous and rumbling beats begin "A Dressing Gown Inside a Locker" unaccompanied. As Raskin and Graewe enter the fray, the energy of the collective improvisation remains high. Angsty exuberance marks Graewe's crystalline pianism which shimmers at the core of this thrilling repartee. Raskin, with an extemporization sprinkled with honks and wails, closes the piece on an elegantly frenetic note.
It is fortunate that this captivating and unique performance has become available for a wider audience than the one which tuned in to sfSound back in 2009. The ensemble's inner synergy, as well as the distinct yet complementary artistic visions, make listening to Live at NIR Studios both demanding and rewarding. This is music which stimulates on both cerebral and visceral levels.
a great harness for a horse; a door with a skeleton as its knocker; a dressing gown inside a locker; a city
full of talking faces; the words creating noisy books.
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