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Ferenc Snetberger: TITOK

Mark Sullivan By

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Hungarian nylon-string guitarist Ferenc Snetberger made his ECM debut playing live solo guitar on In Concert (2016). Here he shares the musical space with Swedish bassist Anders Jormin and U.S. drummer Joey Baron—a combination suggested by producer Manfred Eicher, and cemented by three concerts in Hungary before the recording session.

Jormin and Baron have played together on live shows, but never on record, despite their many individual ECM appearances. Baron has considerable experience playing with guitarists: he has worked with John Abercrombie for twenty years, most recently appearing on Up and Coming (ECM, 2017); has a long association with Bill Frisell, going all the way back to Lookout for Hope (ECM, 1987); and was a member of Jakob Bro's trio on Streams (ECM, 2016).

The new trio was comfortable enough to produce the improvised performances that bracket the program: "Cou Cou" (featuring Baron playing drums with his hands) and the title tune open, while "Clown," "Rush" and "Inference" close. "Titok" is set up by Jormin's unaccompanied bass, and the brief "Inference" finds the leader unaccompanied. The rest of the music is a mix of older Snétberger compositions and new music written for the trio. "Kék Kerék" is one of the old ones, a beautiful waltz that makes an especially strong impression coming out of the improvised material that precedes it.

"Rambling" is the first of the new selections, a lyrical guitar piece that sounds like it could work very well as a solo piece (although sensitively accompanied by the rhythm section here). "Orange Tango" shows the trio in full conversational mode. It opens with unaccompanied drums, only hinting at the tango rhythm. The guitar enters in the lead, but constantly in dialog with the bass. "Leolo" features gentle guitar harmonics, with a spotlight on a beautiful arco bass solo. "Renaissance" finds Snétberger's guitar in a lute-like role, reflecting the song's title, but also has room for a pizzicato bass solo.

Ferenc Snetberger's style is just as distinctive in this trio setting as it was solo: blending classical, jazz, Gypsy jazz, and Latin American musics, but melded together into a singular voice. Jormin and Baron are completely attuned—nylon-string guitar fans should take note.

Track Listing: Cou Cou; Titok; Kék Kerék; Rambling; Orange Tango; Fairytale; Álom; Leolo; Ease; Renaissance; Clown; Rush; Inference.

Personnel: Ferenc Snetberger: guitar; Anders Jormin: double bass; Joey Baron: drums.

Title: Titok | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: ECM Records

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