354

Undivided: Exploring Consciousness in Ukraine

By

Sign in to view read count

Undivided
Philarmony Concert Hall
Lviv, Ukraine

October 1, 2009



It's been a long time since head-solo-head was the only possible structure for jazz improvisation. Jazz symphonies, jazz operas, unprepared hour-long improvisations, recorded as well as performed live, frequently depart from the conventional formulaic pattern. Another popular form is the suite. The history of the extended jazz suite goes back to Duke Ellington's annual Carnegie Hall concerts with the premiere of Black, Brown and Beige in 1941, inspiring later examples such as Sonny Rollins' Freedom Suite, Max Roach's We Insist! Freedom Now Suite and, of course, John Coltrane's liturgy A Love Supreme. A similar work was presented in Lviv by the quintet, Undivided.

Notably, this ensemble united musicians of different epochs and geographies. Besides the Polish composer-leader clarinetist Waclaw Zimpel, German percussionist Klaus Kugel and Ukrainian doublebassist Mark Tokar joined ranks with American free-jazz legends clarinetist Perry Robinson and ex-patriot Bobby Few, who has long been living in Paris.



As part of a festival of contemporary music the concert proceeding from this recently created project was scheduled for the 1st of October. Posters announcing the concert carried phrases "endeavoring to describe different levels of human consciousness", and the names of compositions evoked human emotions and states of mind: "Love", "Enlightment", "Fullness", etc. All of which brought two possible scenarios to mind: something truly unusual and extreme; a work of undeniable pathos.



The first composition started as two clarinets engaged in a Coltrane-like, modal theme, producing drawling meditative sounds. While soloing, the horns showed different approaches reflecting the individual performers—Robinson, yowling and howling, seemed to combine in his playing almost the entire history of the instrument, from traditional to free-jazz. Zimpel's clarinet, on the other hand, sounded more tranquil and restrained—more European in its approach. At the same time Bobby Few supplied dense chord textures while Mark Tokar and Klaus Kugel maintained a loose pulse, keeping the meter free and flexible.

The next number led off with Kugel's light percussion. But it wasn't long before solo clarinet joined him on a sonorous duet, matching the expressiveness of Kugel's mallets. An unexpected groovy bass riff opened the third piece before piano entered with repeated arpeggio patterns, yielding to the longest solo, with Few flailing the keyboard ecstatically and making harp-like dashes through the instrument's entire register. After long applause, which made even the musicians seem taken back, Robinson and Zimpel engaged in a swinging dialog of cutting phrases, while the rhythm-section played intermittently, leaving room for the clarinets' sonorous interjections. Then, after a short funk interlude, Mark Tokar soloed, combining powerful plucks with resonating vibrato before imitating the human voice with his arco bass. Finally, Kugel settled matters with an authoritative drum solo, ending with sheer artillery fire from his kit.

The fourth part was built around a life-affirming sanguine theme. After a lyrical Zimpel solo on bass-clarinet Robinson played an almost mainstream swing solo but over a free-jazz uneven pulse. The last number began with a sonorous breathy clarinet duo, which changed to a suspended mood rendered by Few and Tokar. Not for a long, however, because as if to provide the expectation of the performance's culmination Zimpel took a solo, playing aggressively, even shrieking. After him Few soloed, using Monk-like elliptical phrasing just before Robinson's solo and a return to the initial theme, which slowly faded away, bringing the whole concert to a calm closure.

Besides displaying superb musicianship, these musicians had something to say: they were successful in expressing their emotions. Compositionally, the flow of the suite's parts was paralleled by a sequence of musical moods, each announced by dramatic accents. Ballad compositions changed to rhythmically-charged numbers, which in turn were followed by passionate, even ecstatic, sermons logically woven into a coherent musical canvas. This performance, the third by this band, showed that the "endeavor to describe states of human consciousness" was realized, to the enjoyment and illumination of all fortunate to have experienced it.



Photo Credit
Courtesy of Dmitry Tuyon

Perry Robinson at All About Jazz
Bobby Few at All About Jazz
Visit Waclaw Zimpel on the web
Visit Mark Tokar on the web
Klaus Kugel at All About Jazz


Shop

More Articles

Read Kneebody at Johnny Brenda's Live Reviews Kneebody at Johnny Brenda's
by Mike Jacobs
Published: April 25, 2017
Read Vossajazz 2017 Live Reviews Vossajazz 2017
by Ian Patterson
Published: April 23, 2017
Read Hermeto Pascoal at SFJAZZ Live Reviews Hermeto Pascoal at SFJAZZ
by Harry S. Pariser
Published: April 21, 2017
Read Lewis Nash and Steve Wilson at JazzNights Live Reviews Lewis Nash and Steve Wilson at JazzNights
by David A. Orthmann
Published: April 18, 2017
Read Tallinn Music Week 2017 Live Reviews Tallinn Music Week 2017
by Martin Longley
Published: April 16, 2017
Read Bergamo Jazz Festival 2017 Live Reviews Bergamo Jazz Festival 2017
by Francesco Martinelli
Published: April 14, 2017
Read "Galway Jazz Festival 2016" Live Reviews Galway Jazz Festival 2016
by Ian Patterson
Published: October 31, 2016
Read "Jazztopad 2016, Part 1" Live Reviews Jazztopad 2016, Part 1
by Henning Bolte
Published: December 24, 2016
Read "Ted Ludwig Trio at Little Rock's South on Main" Live Reviews Ted Ludwig Trio at Little Rock's South on Main
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: March 28, 2017
Read "Big Ears Festival 2017" Live Reviews Big Ears Festival 2017
by Mark Sullivan
Published: April 5, 2017
Read "Euopean Jazz Conference 2016: Polish Jazz Showcases" Live Reviews Euopean Jazz Conference 2016: Polish Jazz Showcases
by Ian Patterson
Published: October 17, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM RECORDS | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!