Guitarist Samo Salamon has found some interesting and distinctive ways to present his music. These include forming groups with different musicians and instrumentations, so as to give his compositions the particular flavours they require. Among these line-ups sit his European quartets, and true to his vision, both have different line-ups which allow Salamon to pursue different ideas and idioms. He does so with a great deal of success.
Samo Salamon European Quartet
Salamon is no slouch when it comes to using his imagination. Here he has a tuba and an accordion to complement the guitar and the drums. They serve the melodic excursions well, and they also come up with some hot and exhilarating free jazz.
"The Crocodile Is Crazy" is an off-kilter name and the fun of that name is carried into the music. Salamon and tuba player Michel Godard engage in call and response, with the latter squiggling and loosening some top heavy notes and breathy filigrees. The streams converge as Salamon goes into the melody, developing it slowly but surely and building the tension, before he soaks up a welter of notes and draws Godard into the richly melodic centre.
"Lady Grey" sidles into the thematic structure less than fully formed. This gives call for the musicians to find an empathic level and chemistry, and they do, even as the individual strands float and weave. The build-up gets trenchant and then blows open, Salamon unleashing feedback, the rhythm section pumping the beat, and Luciano Biondini weaving his accordion through the structure like a delirious drunk. This lady is an absolute pleasure.
The tribute "e.e. cummings" is a vehicle for Salamon really to show off his skills. He gives himself plenty of room and turns in a skilled improvisatory run. His ideas are fertile and he never slips off the path even as he makes some subtle turns and shifts. Godard gives the tuba a singing voice, Biondini lets the accordion dance a jig, and beneath it all is the sprightly rhythm structure of Robert Dani's drums adding the last bit of enticement.
Samo Salamon European Quartet
Salamon replaces Biondini with soprano and tenor saxophonist Julian Arguelles for this recording. He uses a looser structure for his compositions, and the feel is distinct from the other disc as the moods takes on a color of their own.
Salamon merges the pastoral and the exponential deftly on "Is That Tuba? Arguelles unveils the melody, a beautiful one, on the soprano. The pace is measured and unhurried, embellished by the tinkling notes of the guitar. The groove gets deeper with punctuation from Godard's tuba and Arguelles' shearing lines. The melody remains prime even as Salamon returns with an edgier emphasis.
Melody is once more the key element of "Black Tears." Arguelles lets it mark its presence and then takes the tangent of invention in a quick turn of notes with silence enveloping him. Godard comes in rather furtively, not imposing his presence, and Salamon adds well spaced exclamations. The whole continues to be atmospheric even as the intensity builds gradually with tuba, guitar and drums hewing a deeper trail. By now melody has been dispensed with and the freedom the musicians have found is stimulating.
"Kolibri" is a jumpy, infectious outing. The swing is a delight and far removed form what has gone before. The spaciousness that characterised the other tunes is taken over tightly woven textures. And as pulse and time change, as conversations taken on different tones and attributes, there is an undeniable atmosphere of fun that permeates right through.
Tracks and Personnel
The Crocodile Is Crazy; Grace; Fall Memories; Lady Grey; Number Of Circles; For The Leaves; Our 76th Breakfast; Kei's Suite/Parts I-V; e.e. cummings.
Michel Godard: tuba; Samo Salamon: guitar; Luciano Bondini: accordion; Roberto Dani: drums.
A Tune For Michel; Is That Tuba?; Excuse Me, Mr. Frisell?; Baby Kisses; Yellow Chocolate; Nano; Thematics; Black Tears; Hebe; Kolibri.
Michel Godard: tuba; Julian Arguelles: tenor and soprano saxophones; Samo Salamon: guitar; Roberto Dani: drums.