ATZBE is the working title for a duo of master improvisers: German pianist, Hubert Bergmann, and UK-based reeds player, Gilad Atzmon
. Zone De Memoire
is the duo's first album, a set of seven improvisations recorded in a single afternoon, and Bergmann and Atzmon's first musical collaboration.
Bergmann seems to relish the thrill of this first improvisational meeting. A similar collaboration with clarinetist, Lajos Dudas
, produced the highly enjoyable What's Up Neighbor?
(JazzSick Records, 2011). Atzmon leads the highly-regarded Orient House Ensemble, is a longstanding member of one of the UK's best-loved rock bands, The Blockheads, and works with vocalist, Sarah Gillespie
. This album was, in fact, recorded in Uberlingen, Germany, on the afternoon prior to a concert by Gillespie.
The freshness of the music certainly suggests that this is a new partnership, but there is none of the tentative exploration that might also be expected when two musicians interact for the first time. Bergmann and Atzmon display a confident assertiveness from the beginningrespectful of each other, interacting cooperatively rather than in competition, and each creating new pathways for the other to follow.
The music is characterized by the superb agility of both players. They constantly dart and swoop around each other on the 15-minute "Invisible Abyss," and Bergmann's percussive, staccato piano is counterpoint to Atzmon's equally urgent, but smoother patterns.
On the slower tunes, such as the warm and romantic "Roof Of Clouds" they construct atmosphere as though they had played together for years. Atzmon opens "Beyond Boundaries" with a melodic, soft-toned alto sax solo. Handing it over, Bergmann builds a more jagged, up-tempo, pattern, upon which Atzmon then picks up to build a solo with a fiery, sparkling, intensity. There's fun, too, especially from Atzmon. He relieves the darkening mood of "No Thing" by breaking into "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes," and makes his instrument laugh like a scary circus clown, as if in response to this sudden joke.
Duo improvisation is a fertile, creative territory. On Zone De Memoire
, Bergmann and Atzmon successfully explore this territory with invention and humorit's a first date and hopefully, there's more to come.