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Gunter Christmann / Mats Gustafsson / Paul Lovens: Trio

Nic Jones By

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The language of free improvisation is decades old now and its power to shock has arguably diminished accordingly. If there's something in the contention that everything once radical is eventually co-opted by an ever broadening mainstream, free improvisation still gives the lie to it. Still the creative process behind it can appear inscrutable, and the very lack of predetermination often gives the resulting music a singular tension and release.

Both that creative process and the tension and release are here in abundance. All three musicians are well versed in the language but what often gives the music an edge is their willingness to put it to use in the interest of confounding expectations. Thus, on the third "something more" —and never was the business of titling more arbitrary- the music is formed from dead sounds as much as tuned. Lovens, arguably one of the most perceptive percussionists when it comes to augmenting the standard sonic palette, is alert to the implications of the tiniest sounds, while Gustafsson's overblowing of the baritone sax seems arbitrary, in thrall only to the needs of the moment. Christmann on cello perhaps inevitably occupies ground somewhere between the two, yet not for a moment is there any doubt about this being a collective performance.

On the fourth reading, things coalesce in relatively straightforward fashion, although Lovens' appreciation of sound is deep enough to ensure that he gnaws intermittently at the music's edges. On trombone Christmann is expansive even while he hardly deals at all in the instrument's acknowledged range; when he does so he too is given to acute appreciation of the smallest sound's implications, while Gustafsson for all of his almost comedic striving for effect gives up the fight for more aggressive, less pointillist music.

By the time of the seventh reading the level of collective understanding is extraordinary, the result of a creative process as potent and overt as anything out there. It's also a profound rebuttal of anything rhetorical as the music still proceeds by a process of drawing in by dint of the lack of volume.

In light of this, the closing "Enough is Not Enough" is not so much a statement of fact as it is an unassuming manifesto for the fecundity of collective music making. The perennial paradox of music made through the negation of personality yet informed by musical personalities is rarely so potently embodied.

Track Listing: Something More; Something More; Something More; Something More; Something More; Something More; Something More; Enough Is Not Enough.

Personnel: Mats Gustafsson: soprano sax, baritone sax, fluteophone; Gunter Christmann: cello, trombone; Paul Lovens: percussion.

Title: Trio | Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: FMP Records

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