A group made up entirely of strings might initially suggest chamber music, but this all-European trio produces music that crosses many boundaries, not so much to create music that's eclectic but to define its own terrain. Portuguese violinist Carlos Zingaro is a well-known exponent of free improvisation while the bassist Wilbert de Joode has served as foundation in a broad spectrum of Amsterdam-based bands from jazz to free improvisation. But what most defines this group's original sound is the presence of Dominique Regef, the French master of the hurdy-gurdy (or sanfona or vielle à roue, other names offered on this CD) or wheel fiddle, a medieval form of violin played with a wheel that functions as a bow. Exploiting the instrument's drone string and employing some novel playing techniques (there are rhythmic patterns that sound like a playing card in a bicycle wheel), Regef provides plenty of sonic stimulation to Zingaro and De Joode as well as some adept improvisations.
Divided into three long tracks, the first begins with a curiously poetic prelude in which sounds that approximate a classical ensemble tuning up suddenly drift to light, wispy sounds and then fall silent. It's almost a putting to rest of some string conventions. The longest piece, the 25-minute "Spectra 02," begins with Zingaro archly melodic in a startlingly vibrant upper register while De Joode plays sudden arpeggios and Regef creates a "bee-loud glade," a dense buzzing drone. If the opening would sound at home with one of the Bartók violin concertos, that intensity transmutes time, eventually creating a vibrating sonic world. It's not one you'd necessarily associate with the practices of free improvisation, but summons up a primal village music that seems to stretch across a lost century, fusing Persian and Indian influences through North Africa into Spain and the rest of Europe. It's a sound that is local and universal, primeval and contemporary. It's the kind of brilliant result that can only arise in the spontaneous encounter of strong musical personalities.
Rhythm Abstraction: Azure is the first volume of new compositions created as a follow up to 2018’s
release Rhythm Kaleidoscope. As with that release, Brock Avery improvised drum and percussion
solos. Frank Macchia then composed music for woodwinds and orchestra to Brock’s creations. Azure
is the first of three extended play albums of 6-7 compositions which will be released starting in
January and followed up in April and July. In Azure we have a created a group of pieces that continue
our quest for honoring the art of improvisation with a “stream-of-consciousness” sense of
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