With the virtually simultaneous release of the intriguingly delightful Nano
and Fall Memories
(Splasc(H), 2007), guitarist Samo Salamon brings forth his European Quartet. A true jazzman of the world, his projects have included musicians and attitudes taken from both sides of the Atlantic, resembling the older Gebhard Ullmann
Salamon's three previous releasesTwo Hours
(Fresh Sound New Talent, 2006), Kei's Secret
(Splasc(H) Records, 2006) and Government Cheese
(Fresh Sound New Talent, 2007)used predominantly American musicians, with each one breaking new ground.
Salamon uses virtuouso tubaist Michel Godard and drummer Roberto Dani on both Nano
and Fall Memories
, while the fourth spot goes to reedman Julian Arguelles on the former and accordionist Luciano Biondini on the latter.
Unusual instrumentation to be sure, and Nano
lacks any chordal instrument when Salamon is soloing, further increasing the control needed to make coherent music. This challenge demonstrates Salamon's continued growth as a composer and arranger, as each album differs in the musical problems it solves.
Despite the varying sounds from album to album, the music remains immediately identifiable in construction as Salamon's, besides his own recognizable playing style. On Nano
, the music's texture is light, airy and flowing as each instrument's line manages to sound both independent and a structured part of the whole. Salamon leaves the distortion behind, using a thinner tone that blends with and surrounds the other instruments.
Dani and Godard, playing as the rhythm section, are magnificent as they fill as many roles as needed. The drumming is light and supple, providing a pulse when necessary without becoming overbearing, while always supplying a percussive voice. Godard's tuba work is revelatory as he lays down the bass line at one moment only to become a voice filling out a choir harmony at another, only to switch to melodic counterpoint, then blowing with a joyous freedom, free of any limitations of his instrument.
Arguelles, playing mostly soprano saxophone, fulfills the dual role of soloist and melodic harmonist with Godard. He fits in perfectly, helping to shape the music and provide much of its sunshine.
Salamon's music refuses to allow superficial analysis, while holding the ear's attention. Although his lines are diffuse and have unpredictable phrase lengths, they logically hold together, producing a forward motion that twists and turns. What Arguelles and Godard play flits between improvisation and composition and, when surrounded by Salamon's constantly varying playing, produce a whole that is more than the sum of its parts. Nano
demonstrates that Salamon's compositional skills are solidifying, allowing him to maintain the delicate balance between control and freedom. This wondrous music has many layers, each of which deserves deep attention.