Cosmopolitan is a term that is often used to describe musicians, but in the case of Slovenian guitarist Samo Salamon, it is certainly a description that fits.
Salamon has turned the restless nature of the travelling musician into an aesthetic strategy and has worked with two different quartets that represent his different musical sides: the hip underground of the New York jazz scene and the experimental sensibility of the European avant-garde.
Stretching Out is an ambitious double album that offers a full portrait of his working groups. Disc one consists of four compositions played by Salamon's US quartet with tenor saxophonist Donny McCaslin, bassist John Hebert and drummer Gerald Cleaver. This is epic stuff where the term "stretching out" is taken at face value. McCaslin spins elegant narrative lines and the propulsive drumming of Cleaver keeps things boiling while the groove is in the hands of Hebert. Salamon's motifs twist and turn, but there's a melodic sensibility at heart, which comes across on the unison playfulness on "Swamp Area" where the guitarist and McCaslin play in close tandem.
Disc 2 finds Salamon playing with his European quartet with bassist Bruno Chevillon and drummer Roberto Dani. The most interesting addition, however, is violinist Dominique Pifarely. He plays in the vein of Jeff Gauthier and Billy Bang and his playing is a joy to behold as he explores the textures of his instrument without sacrificing the melody. Like Salamon, Pifarely is a melodic experimentalist and a refreshing musical voice.
The group covers a wide spectrum, ranging from subtle lyrical Steve Reich-like repetition on "Molene" to shades of progressive rock on "The Puffins We Never Saw," with heavily distorted chords and scratching violin.
Stretching Out is the perfect portrait of one of the most interesting guitarists in modern jazz. Salamon continues to stretch the boundaries of music and here he engages in an intense dialogue with his working groups and creates an expression that is all his own.
Track Listing: My Rain / Kei's Blues; Swamp Area; Ice Storm; The Puffins We Never Saw; Drizzle; Erdeven; The Land of Artichokes; Molene; No Photos!; Oyster Picnic; Pointe Du Raz.
Personnel: Samo Salamon: guitar; Donny McCaslin: tenor saxophone (CD1); John Hebert: bass (CD1); Gerald Cleaver: drums (CD1); Dominique Pifarely: violin (CD2); Bruno Chevillon: bass (CD2); Roberto Dani: drums (Cd2).
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