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Samo Salamon Trio: Live!

Bruce Lindsay By

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Guitar, drums and tuba may not be one of jazz music's classic combinations, but on Live! Slovenian guitarist Samo Salamon's trio shows that such a line-up can deliver creative, tight and engaging performances that are easily a match for more traditional ensembles.

Salamon is a prolific musician, whose history includes work with John Scofield, Josh Roseman and Gerald Cleaver, among many others, and he has released nine albums as leader. Live! features ten of his compositions—many of which are rearranged versions of originals from albums such as Kei's Secret (Splasc(h) Records, 2006) and Nano (Zalozba Goga records, 2007). The earlier recordings featured additional instrumentation and Salamon is to be congratulated for the trio arrangements which by and large deal effectively with the absence of saxophone or accordion. "Miss Sarcasm" works particularly well in its trio arrangement, as does "Fall Memories," but the live version of "Hebe" is given a harder edge than the original and misses Julian Arguelles' delicate saxophone playing.

Salamon's guitar sound is bright and clear. He has a light but precise touch, ensuring that his single note playing is delicate and liquid while his chordal technique is similarly distinct—such clarity is a key feature of his style and it marks Salamon out from many other guitarists who are happy to sacrifice clarity for speed. Michel Godard's tuba playing is a treat—technically excellent, it also displays delicacy, humor and inventiveness in equal measure. Godard moves on to bass guitar for half of the album, and is a skilful bassist, but it's his performance on tuba that lends a real distinctiveness to the trio's sound.

Salamon, Godard and drummer Roberto Dani have worked together in other line-ups over the two or three years prior to this recording, but this is their first album as a trio. The musicians complement each other well, displaying a shared understanding whether playing as an ensemble or as soloist and rhythm section. "My Amusing Muse" shows this understanding particularly effectively, as Salamon and Dani sensitively underpin Godard's tuba playing to create the album's standout track.

Live! was recorded during a performance in Graz, Austria. Presumably the recording was made directly to the sound desk, as there is no audience noise or applause to be heard. This gives the album excellent sound quality, but it also results in the lack of a live atmosphere—a pity, because the trio's performance is warm and involving, and the addition of some audience response would add to the feel of this fine recording.

Track Listing: Hebe; Catch the Train; Kei's Secret; My Rain; Miss Sarcasm; Girl with a Nicotine Kiss; Happy Girl; My Amusing Muse; Fall Memories; Spring Forest.

Personnel: Samo Salamon: guitar; Roberto Dani: drums; Michel Godard: tuba, electric bass.

Title: Live! | Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: Samo Records


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