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Markus Eichenberger & Christoph Gallio: Unison Polyphony

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Markus Eichenberger & Christoph Gallio: Unison Polyphony
Unison Polyphony features two renowned Swiss players, Markus Eichenberger on clarinet and Christoph Gallio on saxophones. Considering that both were born in 1957 and first played together in the '80s, it is somewhat surprising that this is their first recording together. However, given the instruments they play, it is less surprising as duos of reed instruments are scarce. Yes, The International Nothing duo of Kai Fagaschinski and Michael Thieke on clarinets springs to mind as does the bass clarinet pairing of Katie Porter and Lucio Capece. While saxophones and clarinets frequently play together in larger ensembles, Eichenberger and Gallio seem to be breaking new ground here...

Studio-recorded in Baden, Switzerland, over two June days in 2020, the album comprises ten tracks with a total running time of forty-one minutes, the shortest track lasting thirty-five seconds, the longest eight-and-a-half minutes. All are duos, including the seventy-eight second "Update" which is exceptional as it is fully composed. As the sleeve notes point out, this is neither a supportive duo, in which one player backs another, nor a conversational duo, where the players call and respond, reacting to one another. Instead, the two both play throughout, with occasional gaps, clearly aware of one another's playing without copying it or getting in one another's way. Much of the time they play improvised melodic phrases which are easy on the ear and make pleasurable listening.

Consequently, the album title Unison Polyphony is something of an oxymoron as its two words rather contradict each other. Yes, there is polyphony as the two independent melodic lines complement one another. However, the two lines are never close enough to each other to be described as in "unison." The sleeve notes try to get around this by arguing that 1+1=1, meaning that the two instrumental lines combine into one. With one being saxophone and the other clarinet, that does not really hold water. Putting such pedantry aside, and judging the album on its music rather than its title, Unison Polyphony is an undoubted success, to the extent that we must hope this twosome records again soon.

Track Listing

New ways; When the Day is Short; When the Day is Long; How to Sleep Better; How Does My Cat Think; Strange Cave System; Gifts of the Artists; Update; A Walkable Swamp; The Balance of a Clay Figure.

Personnel

Christoph Gallio
saxophone, soprano
Additional Instrumentation

Christoph Gallio: C-melody saxophone (6).

Album information

Title: Unison Polyphony | Year Released: 2022 | Record Label: Ezz-thetics


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