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Martin Küchen: The Spirit Of Piteşti

Mark Corroto By

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Sometimes a scene in a movie or a book persists in the mind long after being viewed or read. Sometimes an aroma can conjure a feeling from the past. Memory is often connected to emotion in an unconscious manner. Substitute sound for scent and the passions can be equally strong. The Swedish/Norwegian trio of saxophonist Martin Küchen, bassist Per Zanussi, and drummer Raymond Strid known as the Trespass Trio are the sonic equivalent of our collective memory.

The Spirit Of Piteşti is their fourth release (fifth, if you count the same lineup originally known as the Martin Küchen Trio) and follows critically acclaimed live recording Human Encore (Clean Feed, 2013) with guest Joe McPhee. What is evident in all of Küchen's work here, and with the various iterations of the band Angles, is his loyalty to freedom music. We're not talking free jazz, as much as freedom of speech. The political aspects of this music are front and center. The Trespass Trio picks up what Max Roach and Charles Mingus spawned in the 1960s. Piteşti was a Romanian city where political prisoners were subjects of a brainwashing experiment and subject to multiple human rights abuses. The music brings to our ears the hopelessness and helplessness of the place with Küchen's mournful baritone and the desolate bowing of Zanussi on the composition "The Spirit Of Pitești." With the trio, sadness is not something to eschew. The music opens and closes with variations on "Sounds & Ruins," a slow elegy that would give even the hardest of hearts pause. While Küchen's saxophone chants (not unlike Coltrane's "Alabama"), Zanussi trudges a path, and Strid chatters accents on cymbal and skins. "Fri Kokko (Free Retardo At The Koko Club)" changes pace with Küchen blowing two horns à la Rahsaan Roland Kirk. Like Kirk's political music, "Volunteered Slavery" and "Blacknuss," the Trespass Trio's sounds successfully entertain and educate.

Track Listing: Sounds & Ruins (Take 3); The Spirit Of Pitești; In Tears; Fri Kokko (Free Retardo At The Koko Club); Centers; Sounds & Ruins (Take 2).

Personnel: Per Zanussi: double bass; Raymond Strid: drums, percussion; Martin Küchen: baritone saxophone, alto saxophone, sopranino saxophone

Title: The Spirit Of Piteşti | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Clean Feed Records

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