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Swedish-born and now Boston-based bassist Bruno Raberg explores meditative soundscapes with a flexible free improvisation approach in a variety of ensemble sizes. On Presence (Orbis Records, 2000) he featured a trio lineup. Chrysalis (Orbis Records, 2004) showcased an all-star nonet; and on his sprawling two disc Lifelines (Orbis Records, 2008) he employed a quartet. With Plunge though, he pares things down to an intimate duo setting, teaming with trumpeter Phil Grenadier for the most modern sounding outing in his discography.
Sparseness and space are often a big part of duo outings, but less so here, due to Råberg's very effective use of sound design. These mostly free improvisations were laid down in real time, with effects and sound manipulations added later to craft an eerie electronic atmosphere. Grenadier lays down his linesmuted and open hornwith a patient resolve. Råberg's bass paints dark washes and pounds out percussive interludes. "Double duos" appear, where Råberg and Grenadier recorded free improvisations and then overdubbed, interacting with and bouncing off the first take.
The pieces are short, ranging from the forty-five second opener, "Reveille," to the six and a half minute heart of the disc, and one of two written piecesalto saxophonist free jazz pioneer Ornette Coleman's "Lonely Woman." This frequently covered Coleman tune has never sounded more anguished, with Grenadier's two trumpet parts weaving around one another inside a dread-filled soundscape hum.
The disc closes with the searching "Being and Time," a tranquil trumpet accompanied by Råberg's bass that shifts between edgy fibrillation and steady metronomic notes, to wrap up an excellent suite-like free jazz outing.
Track Listing: Reveille; Last Train to Seville; Five Short Pieces: Seiryuu- Azure Dragon, Byakko - White Tiger, Suzaku - Vermillion Bird, Genbu - Black Tortoise, Ouryu - Yellow Dragon; Lonely Woman; Heartwood; Ushas/Quadratic; Intersections I - IV: Part 1 - Moving Cycles, Part 2 - Line and Sphere, Part 3 - Sand Clock, Part 4 - Isomorphic; Area 51; The Outermost Island; Triangulum; Lizrael; Intersections V: Part 5 - Being and Time.
Personnel: Phil Grenadier: trumpet; Bruno Råberg: acoustic bass, sound design.
Years ago now--in Rhodesia--listening to Voice of America with Willis Conover I heard Bunk Johnson play When The Saints Go Marching In, and Billie Holiday sing Don't Explain. I knew then there was no other life for me than jazz.