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The duo of British guitarist John Russell, an important figure of the London free improvisation scene since the seventies, and Norwegian drummer Ståle Liavik Solberg, a central figure in Oslo's thriving improvised music scene in recent years is a working unit. The two not only perform together as a duo, but over the last two years have occasionally performed in quartet with fellow British electronics player Steve Beresford, and double bassist John Edwards. After countless performances, Russell and Solberg developed an immediate, highly personal, and nuanced vocabulary that is restless and flowing with imaginative sounds and ideas.
The 33-minute "No step" free improvisation was recorded in Oslo in May 2013, as part of the Blow Out! Series that Solberg curates, is beautifully captured and mixed by saxophonist Frode Gjerstad, a collaborator of Solberg in the quartet VDCD. Russell and Solberg are totally tuned to each other's ideas, selflessly focused on expanding, coloring, and varying the shared ideas. Both do not waste time on these ideas, they know when an idea is exhausted and the time is ripe for new ones. Along with this impressive flow of ideas and the tight and thick interplay, both keep exploring new sounds that enrich and color the dialogue. Neither attempts to embark on excessive solo parts, keeping the interaction economic and supportive.
Most of the time both Russell and Solberg opt for a reserved, supportive interplay that emphasizes the great sensitivity of each other's articulations with few minor eruptions of energetic and intense playing. Both sound as if they are enjoying building sonic sand castles, then watching these imaginary structures disappear in the air, then sketching new ones, different ones, but with the same emphatic, and passionate manner.
Track Listing: No Step (33:05).
Personnel: John Russell: guitar; Ståle Liavik Solberg: drums, percussion.
I grew up listening to mainstream '70s rock then ended up on the staff at the college paper at San Diego State, and volunteered to review heavy metal LPs. My second semester, the music editor dropped a Fenton Robinson LP on my desk, Night Flight. You like metal; they play guitar--he plays guitar, the editor told me
I grew up listening to mainstream '70s rock then ended up on the staff at the college paper at San Diego State, and volunteered to review heavy metal LPs. My second semester, the music editor dropped a Fenton Robinson LP on my desk, Night Flight. You like metal; they play guitar--he plays guitar, the editor told me. If we don't run a review, Alligator Records is going to stop servicing us.
Night Flight opened up a whole new world for me--the blues led me, inevitably, to Basie, who led to Duke, who led to Mingus, who led to Miles, who led to ...