Friday, July 8, 2016

Santi Costanzo - Deeprint (Improvvisatore Involontario, 2016)

At the beginning in the 1950s there was bebop, with his harmonic complexities. Then, in the 1960s, you had free jazz, with his stress on the melodic aspects of music and glossolalia. Then again, in the 1970s, it was the time of the Chicago avant garde, with his attempt to revisite the structures of the music and its openness to contemporary music, and the European improvised music, with every musician involved in creating their own language detached completely from the blues. And finally, in the 1980s and 1990s, it was the time of the post-modern avant garde, with the likes of John Zorn, Ikue Mori, Zeena Parkins, in which languages were colliding to create games with codes.

What happened in the 2000s? In part you have young musicians as Mary Halvorsom, who works on creating a language of its own collaborating with masters as Anthony Braxton, pushing the evolution on the next level, on the other hand you have a myriads of others young musicians who are not part of a movement – not at least while developing their own language – who are creating music taking here and there from the history of music itself; they have for sure mentors and masters, but they don't affect necessarily their development as musicians.

This younger generation explore the values of the music that came before them and then they pick some elements useful to create their own experimentations. But this time, there's no such a movement on their back. They're lonely. I called this music 'post avant garde', and the record Triplain by Paolo Sorge (reviewed here) is a good example of this music. On the other hand you have Sorge's scholar Santi Costanzo, who is clearly another representative member of this 'post avant garde' style.

His new record Deeprint (Improvvisatore Involontario, 2016) is a good example of this new tendency. As the guitarist-composer affirms, this record has three elements: seriality, extemporaneous composition, and free improvisation. Seriality is a reference to the classical contemporary music of the XX century, and it's related to melodic, polyphonic and polyrhithmic aspects of the music. Extemporaneous composition is present in the Prologue and Epilogue of the record, while free improvisation is sometimes guided through the use of conductions.

What is this music we're talking about here? It is still avant-garde? The press talked for a long time about 'post-rock' during the 2000s, and it was a music thatwas opening for sure the boundaries of rock music. But it is this 'post avant garde' music opening the boundaries of the avant-garde? For sure no. It is music you can enjoy through more listenings, finding new nuances every time, as it ever happens with complex music. But it is a music, at least as far as we listened to nowadays, that draw elements from the past.

It is nostalgic music for nostalgic times, and I want to state that this is not the fault of the single musicians, but it is fault of our times: every art is becoming more and more conservative, and this is what's happening also to music. But first become politics. They're influencing music, as far as I can hear. What we can do, so? First thing is try to know everything about the past of music – that's why Complete Communion is devoted to document the AACM, the free jazz movement and recently also contemporary music, with the biography of Iannis Xenakis you all read this week.

We need to deepen the past of avant garde music, we need to master it, we need to know more about it. This is an era in which musicians are left alone, they have difficulties in sharing their music, they have difficulties in creating it. There's no such a movement as they were in the past. This is an era of nostalgia: everybody is looking at the past, and is trying to travel across countries that were still covered. We need to widen our knowledge of the past, in order to help the music to find out new ways to express itself.

As far as this record, I invite you to listen carefully this quartet, since its combination of atonality, electric guitar, free movements of the horns and polyrhythms will not let you disappointed. But I invite you also to discover the music of the past, so come back to my Xenakis biography and start listening to new worlds. This is a strange era, and we need all our resources to put the barricades in their correct order again, to not let pass the Order of Homogenisation.

Line Up: Santi Costanzo, guitar and composition; Fabio Tiralongo, flute, soprano and tenor saxophone; Carlo Cattaneo, alto flute and baritone saxophone; Alessandro Borgia, drums. Tracklist: Prologo, Lai, Audire Aude!, Jumpfive, Milea, Sphere Theories, Ziqqurat, Epilogo

Santi Costanzo Official Website Here you can listen to some previews of the album

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Iannis Xenakis [Part 3 of 3]

In 1967 Xenakis becomes teacher of music at the Indiana University, in Bloomington, U.S. He' not completely keen on teaching, but he accepts since he wants to realize a centre of research devoted to the relationships between music and mathematics. Unluckily almost all of the funds are redirected for the Vietnam war. In 1966 the composer resigns, and he comes back to Paris where he found the CEMAMu (Centre d'Etudes Mathématiques et Musicales, a non-profit organization dedicated to the study of the application of information technology to music). During these years he will realize the Polytopes, architectural spaces that today would be defined 'multimedia centre' and 'site-specific', dedicated to performances involving compositions made of light and sound.

The Polytopes (from the Greek 'poli'=multi and 'tòpos'=space) represent an idea of art that integrates sound, light and space. In that sense, polytopes are not only ancestors of the soundart, since the sound sculptors of our times are always working in a given space, and they sculpt it after choosing it, not before projecting it, and this is Xenakis' most complete realization, today not overtaken. The architecture of specific spaces created to enjoy live music and the creation of its own tools so to realize electronic music come together in Xenakis' mind and activity. When reading his writings of the 1980s, it is clear that what pushes the composer towards this form of total art is the same anxiety he has since the days of stochastic compositions: "Can we do tabula rasa of all the known compositional rules?", and "what a rule is?".

Since 1952 to 1956 Xenakis elaborates in first person in Fortran language a program in order to obtain scores that realize on cartesian axes analitic geometry, composing the pieces of the ST Series. The use of the computer as a compositional tool helps him to overtake 'the art of the fugue', which is transforming a theme following the rules of transposition, augmentation, temporal decrease, etc. inventing, instead, his own musical forms. The ST Series comes from applying to the stochastics the 'Markov chains' (responsible of the developing of computer science and of linguistics, at least until Noam Chomsky proved they were useless in that field).

Not only probability, but also repetition, determinism, so to measure the symmetry of a composition (Nomos Alpha is an example, again): 'repetition' is the definition of one of the smallest conditions to have a 'rule', following Newton. Nomos Alpha is also the best example of 'symbolic music' realized by the composer. Unsatisfied by the structures of Western music, for its limits in polyphonic development, as far as the time logic, Xenakis points at the popular music, in particular the Bizantine popular music, for his use of the pedal in vocal polyphony so that it creates a new tension, the same that will occurr in the music of Debussy or Schoenberg. The composition is divided in 24 sections, and it is composed by two layers: the first is composed by a group of 24 elements, while the second, in contrast, is no more determined by the group theory but it follows a continuous, evolving movement. Commissioned in 1965 by Radio Bremen for cellist Sigfried Palm, and dedicated to the mathematicians Aristossenus, Evariste Galois and Felix Klein, Nomos Alpha represents perfectly the dialectic of transformation of time between en temps and hors temps from which the idea of 'amnesia' comes ('to leave at the entrance the emotional and qualitative burdens passed on by musical traditions' taking under exam only 'the abstract relationships in every event' [Iannis Xenakis, Musiques Formelles, 1963]) and that represents the attempt to recover in music the 'ubiquity' typical of subatomic physics.

The Polytopes are the places in which to present music not only composed, but also played by computers. The Polytope of Montreal has been realized in 1967. Commissioned for that year Expo, it has been realized with wide concave and convex mirrors suspended to electric cables reproducing 'visual melodies' through lightning sources. The music created for the polytope will lead to Kraanerg, a piece of 75 minute of lenght, without any inner subdivision, including instead 20 moment of silence of different lenghts integrals to the development of the piece itself. The first section of Kraanerg contains equal portions of live orchestra and recorded tape, the second section is mostly live orchestra, and the third is almost entirely recorded tape. Performed for the first time at the National Arts Center in Ottawa in 1969, and conceived as accompaniment for Roland Petit's ballet company, Kraanerg has been performed until 1972 and then forgotten until 1988, when a new version coreographed by Graeme Murphy took it at a new peak, with a performance almost exclusively instrumental. The title of the piece comes from Greek, and it means 'accomplished act', referring to the youth movement of those years and the socio-political changes wished for.

The Polytopes diverge the one from the other for the spatial-temporal disposition of music and listeners. The Polytopes of Persepolis and Micenae are the only ones with a fixed stationing for the listeners while sound and light sources are dispersed. Works as Terretektorh and Nomos Gamma presuppose, on the contrary, the listeners to be dispersed between the musicians. The Polytope of Montreal sees the audience at the center of the architecture, with the light and sound sources around the audience.

During the 1970s Xenakis teaches composition and gives public lectures. He creates an atelier as the IMAMu at the University of Indiana, he teaches at the Sorbonne since 1973 to 1989, at the Gresham College in London since 1975 to 1978, and he can see his works performed even in Iran. His last work, O-mega, is accomplished before Alzheimer prevents him to compose. He falls into a coma at the beginning of February, 2001 and he dies in Paris few days later.  

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Iannis Xenakis [part 2 of 3]

In "Art/Sciences, Allianges", Xenakis formulates the link between the arts, and between art and science, already affirmed in his own works: he uses the compositional methods of Metastasis in order to realize the shells of the Phillips Pavillion. 'Allianges' in French means alloy, but it is to be interpreted more as 'synthesis', than in the sense of a perfect fusion between parts. The base of this fusion is Pithagorean math, with his implied links between arithmetics, astronomy, geometry and music. In the following articles collected in "Musiques Formelles" the word 'formalization' is substituted with 'axiomatization'. An entirely 'axiomatic' composition in the opus of Xenakis is Nomos Alpha. Examples of 'axiomatics' developed by the composer is the 'reticulum theory', on whose base has been realized the first part of Jonchaies, and the 'vectorial spaces'.

If it is possible to compare exactly composition and theory in Xenakis, it's because the idea of formalization, of 'mechanism', has a practical goal. There is an independence of theory from composition, as in hindustani music "a book of theory cannot be distinguished from a book of religious teachings and [...] the purely theoretical instructions the musician obtains are almost exclusively aesthetical, not technical [...] since he finds a practical instruction among an active musician" [Derek Bailey: Improvisation and practice in music, Da Capo Press, 1993]. A reference to an improvised style of music helps us to hint at the distance between this world and the one of Xenakis ("The expression aleatory music today means improvised music. Using this way the word 'alea', that in scientifical terms implies casuality, means making an abuse, and it reflects a counterfeiting and sentimental attitude" [Iannis Xenakis, "Ad Libitum", in The World of Music, vol. 9, no. 1, 1967]) and to have a clue on John Cage ("he introduced a new freedom in music, and its realitazion, as it happened in painting with Jackson Pollock" [Iannis Xenakis, "Su John Cage", 1993, in "Universi del Suono", Ricordi, 2003]).

Xenakis developed first of all a compositional method, the 'stochastic theory' – the use of function of distribution of probability in order to compose instrumental music, then the theory of games, the symbolic logic, the groups theory, the reticula theory, the stochastic dynamic synthesis – the use of functions of distribution of possibilities applied to the synthesis of sound, the theory of arborescence, the theory of brownian movements, the theory of cellular robots, and finally the UPIC system (Poliagogic Unit of CEMAMu), a technological invention.

It's now time to look closer to some compositions, in order to verify how theory and compositional practice intertwine. Metastasis, whose title means 'after the stasis', it's a composition for orchestra of 61 instruments: 12 winds, 7 percussions played by 3 musicians, 46 strings, and it's long about 9 minutes. It ain't a stochastic composition, but a piece based on the idea of continuity and discontinuity, something of interest for Parmenides and, after, Albert Einstein – the relationship between matter and energy: if you modify one of the two variables, you act also on the other, and at the same time the composition is influenced by Olivier Messiaen and his theory of rhythms. In 1954 Xenakis was still studying composition with him.

The ideas of rhythms and of continuity/discontinuity help Xenakis to put together the linear perception of the music with a relativistic vision of time. It all starts from the sounds of nature, about whom Xenakis wrote in his writings about stochastic music. The aim of the composer is to "blow up the frames of representation" [Makis Solomos, Apollo e Dioniso, gli scritti di Xenakis, in "Universi del suono", Ricordi, 2003] so to obtain that the events you listen are not evoked or represented, but burst in through music. We're not that far from Antonin Artaud's 'Theatre of Cruelty'. If in Pléiades-Mélanges, as an example, at a certain point we can hear a group of percussions that hint to something that can remember the shuffling of horses, while the ones coming immediately before can evoke some war drums, their value is never descriptive, exactly as it occurs in baroque music.

"The textures act directly, without passing through language, through representation, through codification: they provoke a physical shock. Their violence is a mean to divert the listening from the research of a 'meaning' [...]. There's no need to look for a reality outside the perceptible". [Ibid.]There's no duality, in Xenakis, between nature and culture: nature is the only thing that exists, and if there is tension, conflict, it is because "composing is a fight [...] a fight to produce something interesting". From there it comes the hint to the inner time, and the interest of the composer for the evolution of human perception, starting from the study of the perception of the time in prehistoric societies and the attention on Jean Piaget's experiences on the development of that perception in children. The time itself is nothing more than a surface phenomenon of a deeper reality, the movement ('déplacement'), what Xenakis try to reproduce with his music.

Strings open Metastasis in unison, before they part in 46 different segments, one for each instrument. Intensity, register and density are the variables on which the score lingers, taking the place of progressive linearity of traditional scores, included serial scores. First and third movement of the composition doesn't have a theme or a motif, relying entirely on the force of the idea of time. The second movement, instead, has a melodic element played by the strings, and conceived following the dodecaphonic method of Schonberg and elaborated using the Fibonacci series, a technique that Bartòk used for some of his own themes. The score has been written on a cartesian diagram, then translated tri-dimentionally into the structrure of the Phillips Pavillion.

Pithoprakta ('acts of probability') is born from the idea of developing musically a sound matter using the applications of Boltzmann and Maxwell and the Newton calculation of temperature and pressure of gas. The composition is conceived as a modulation from order to disorder, realized through a 'swarming of molecules' whose parameters submitted to the calculation of probabilities are density and degrees of order, whose diagram has been realized thinking about gaussian distribution of the height. The two compositions are the result of a reflection towards the problem of how to realize a musical work making tabula rasa of the previous compositional methods. "To compose is to fight" said Xenakis, "a fight for the existence. A fight to be. When instead I imitate the past, I do nothing in reality, so I don't exist. [...] The difference is the proof of existence, of knowledge, is participation to the things in the world". [Bàlint Andràs Varga, "Conversations with Iannis Xenakis, Faber & Faber, 1996]

Monday, July 4, 2016

Iannis Xenakis [Part 1 of 3]

"The soul is a fallen God. Only the ek-stasis (the exit out of the Self) can reveal its true nature. We need to escape the Circle of Birth (reincarnations) through purifications (katharmoi) and sacraments (orghia), tools of the ekstasis"
-- Iannis Xenakis, "La voie de la recherche et de la question", 1965

It's 1958. Architect Le Corbusier and his scholar Iannis Xenakis are working on commission at the Philips Pavillion for the Bruxelles Fair. Composer Edgard Varèse is engaged in the sequence of sonic events that will compose his Poème Electronique, whose name comes from a statement of the architect when he had the assignment: "I will not create a building, but an electronic poem in which colors, images, sounds, and architecture will merge so that the audience will be completely dominated" [A. Capanna, "Il Padiglione Phillips a Bruxelles", Turin, 2000]. Xenakis, assistant of Le Corbusier since ten years, is working on the analytical study, and his work is based on the same ideas that led him few year before to give life to music works starting from the intuition – inversely pythagorean – of making music using mathematical formulas, until the definitive overtaking of seriality and the creation of the first 'stochastic' works as Metastasis (presented for the first time to the Donaueschinghen Festival in 1955), Pithoprakta (1956) and Achorripsis (1957).

Those are the years in which Xenakis issues some articles in the magazine “Gravesaner Blätter” by Hermann Scherchen, later published on the volume "Musiques Formelles" (1963, reedited and expanded in 1971 and in 1990), writings that mark the decade that is more related to the 'formalization' of the vast theoretical and musical work of the Greek composer. Twenty years later, during an interview, at the question "Doesn't mathematic interest you anymore?", Xenakis answers "It was an idea, today we need new ones, maybe more disturbing, more strong" [Anne Rey, "Expliquez-Vous Xenakis", Le Monde de la Musique no. 71, october 1984]. The 'disturbing' Xenakis hint at is the movement through time and space, and the primal chaos, and the energy under the phenomenic coordinates of time and space. In the same historical period who produced structuralism and the phenomenology of perception, both signs of the evanescence of Décartes and his self-consciousness, one of the two cornerstones of the last centuries along with Newton physics. A link between Apollo and Dyonisus, science and nature, whose analysis, as Makis Solomos underlines in his essay included in the Italian version of "Universi del Suono. Scritti e interventi 1955-1994" (Ricordi, 2003) is far from being understood in its own complexity, gives life to the art of Xenakis, as long as Nietzsche's philosophy.

Born in Braila, Romania, on May 29, 1922, at the age of twelve Iannis Xenakis move with his family in Athens. Here, he study architecture and engineering, quitting in 1941, when the Nazis occupy Greece. Soldier for the national Resistance, and after for the Communist Resistance, in 1945 the future architect and composer refuses to enter the national military guard created by the British protectorate in order to defeat the partisans, and he becomes a clandestine and is condemned to death in 1947 as a terrorist. That same year in September he leaves Greece for Paris, initially a stage befor going in the U.S.

In the European capital he starts studying composition under Darius Milhaud and Arthur Honegger, then he leaves to study with Olivier Messiaen. Graduated in engineering in 1947, the following year Xenakis enters in Le Corbusier's studio, and with him he designs different works applying on architecture the same principles of his research on composition. Since his "The Crisis of Serial Music" (1955) Xenakis attracts resentments and critiques, first of all for being not satisfied with a way to think about music whose crisis at the time was not completely evident. Between the lines, his personal vision emerges: "Music is a message conveyed by the matter between a man and another man, or a message of men to other men, so it has to speak to all the range of perceptions and human intelligence [...]. We need to establish a constant flow between the biological nature of the man and the buildings of his intelligence, otherwise the abstracts developments of the music of today are at risk of loosing themselves into a desert of infertility." ["La crise de la musique sérielle", 1955]

If the first works of the composer, from 1948 to 1953, are still ideally linked to the ideas developed by Gyorgy Ligeti and Franco Evangelisti, recovering popular tradition, it's the conflict with serialism to push Xenakis to develop new compositional tools. About serialism, its more evident limit is, for him, the predominance of the frequency of sound over intensity and timbre, and the predominance of quality and geometry of sound, whose result is a shape consisting primarily in a multilinear manipulation of the fundamental series. This is very limiting for Xenakis, at the point that, when in 1958 he will dedicate a text to Alban Berg, noticing the affinity with his first steps, he will riaffirm that "it is an error to say that dodecaphonic music abolished tonal functions replacing them with other functions. It is possible instead to evoke the influence of the Renaissance's polyphony." ["Alban Berg le dernier romantique", Le Figaro, february 7, 1985]

Between his contemporaries, Xenaki has affinities with Varèse – according to whom music is "the intelligence of the sound becoming body" [Edgard Varèse, "Ecrits", 1983] – since both are researching a rationality not foreign to the inner and visceral sense of the sound matter. This necessity has been also interpreted biographically, since the composer himself made statements as the following: "Everybody has observed auditory phenomenons of a great politicized crowd of dozens or one hundred thousand people. The human river articulates one rallying cry with an unvarying rhythm. Then another rallying cry is launched from the head of the demonstration spreading to the end of the crowd, and it substitutes the first rallying cry. A wave of transition [...]. Dozens of thousands machine guns and the whistles of the bullets add themselves to that total disorder. [...] Stochastic laws of those events, emptied of their political or moral content are the laws of cicadas or rain. They are the laws of the passing from pefect order to total disorder, in a continuous or explosive way. They are stochastic laws".[Iannis Xenakis, "La musique stochastique: éléments sur le procédé probabilistes de composition musicale", 1961]  

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Sergio Armaroli Trio with Giancarlo Schiaffini - Micro and More Exercises (Dodicilune, 2016)

Christian Wolff (born in Nice, France, in 1934) is one preeminent figure in experimental classical music. His parents were Helen and Kurt Wolff, responsible for the publishing of works by Franz Kafka, Robert Musil and Walter Benjamin. In 1941 the family relocated in the U.S., where they founded Pantheon Books and issued the famous edition of the I Ching that impressed John Cage after Christian Wolff gave him a copy. Wolff became an American citizen in 1946, and at the age of 16 he had lessons in composition by John Cage. Wolff became an associate of Cage and his artistic circle, including Earle Brown, Morton Feldman, David Tudor and Merce Cunningham.

From the very beginning of his career, the music of Christian Wolff dealt with improvisation, offering freedom to the performers to some extent. The 'micro exercises', from the 1970s, “were for an open ensemble that would form a microcosmic society in which players worked together yet responded to one another heterophonously, all players attempting to play in unison with one another, yet inevitably spilling over other's attacks and releases. Although in some way these exercises mimicked the loose-weaved texture of Old South congregational singing (and the Ba-Benzélé music Wolff admired), they prompted Cage to say they sounded like 'classical music of an unknown civilization” [from Michael Hicks and Christian Asplund “Christian Wolff Inside an Original Modern Musical Mind”, University of Illinois Press, 2012].

Sergio Armaroli
It is not a surprise to find out jazz musicians interested in Christian Wolff's music. Nor it is a suprise to find Sergio Armaroli interested in Christian Wolff's music. Armaroli, born as a painter but soon interested in the world of percussions, studied under the direction of Joey Baron, Han Bennink and Trilok Gurtu. Along with his trio (Marcello Testa double bass, Nicola Stranieri drums, Sergio Armaroli vibraphone, marimba, glockenspiel, mbira, shakers, burma bells, gongs, percussions) there is another important composer/performer in this record reviewed here who worked with some of the most important avant garde composers of the past: trombonist Giancarlo Schiaffini.

This double cd set issued by label Dodicilune, “Micro and More Exercises”, is composed by a first cd with the music of Christian Wolff (the Micro Exercises), and a second cd featuring the music of Giancarlo Schiaffini (the More Exercises), who studied with Karlheinz Stockhausen, Gyorgy Ligeti and Vinko Globokar, and collaborated with John Cage, Karole Armitage, Luigi Nono and Giacinto Scelsi.

There's no such a hiatus between the first and the second cd, and that means that the quartet plays organically with a great care for the structure and the texture of the music - and that the music of Giancarlo Schiaffini is contemporary music in every way. Few pieces have a jazz flavour, like Microexercises 7, 10, 15, 17 and 22: that cinematic quality you can find in post no-wave music of John Lurie, and that are less interesting, for their deja vu effect, than the rest, an accomplished balance between written music and improvisation. Since you can find it useful, I want to give you advice of this other record of Christian Wolff music, “11 Micro Exercises” by guitarists Beat Keller and Reza Khota, issued in 2006 by Wandelweiser Records, and reviewed here.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Daniele D'Agaro Massimo De Mattia Giovanni Maier - Tea Time (Rudi Records, 2016)

First time I heard of Daniele D'Agaro, it was in 2011. I came across a couple of records by HatOLOGY, Strandjutters and Chicago Overtones, into a record shop. I haven't bought those albums, nor tried to download some of his music. At that time, I was listening to a lot of contemporary stuff sent to me from around the world, mostly Turkey, plus a lot of reissues, to give me some background in order to judge properly the newest material, to know the roots of this music. But I was very curious about this clarinet player, so now that I had the opportunity to listen to his newest creation, this trio documented through the album Tea Time issued by label Rudi Records, it is the right time to deepen his figure and music.

D'Agaro, clarinet player, started his activity in 1979 and he moved to Berlin for a couple of years. In 1983 he moved again to Amsterdam where he started collaborating with some of the most representative names in the field of improvisation as Benny Bailey, Misha Mengelberg and Louis Moholo-Moholo. In 1989 he gave life to a trio with Tristan Honsinger and Ernst Glerum, creating a style of improvised music bathed in Kwela music (South Africa) and folk; from that period on his interest in different styles of music flourished, incorporating folk music from Friuli and gregorian chant. D'Agaro is not an enemy of contemporaneity, as his collaboration with Richard Teitelbaum testifies.

I've written diffusely of flutist Massimo De Mattia in this post. As far as the third member of this trio, double bassist Giovanni Maier, he is well known here in Italy for his projects related to his instrument, documented in a series of beautiful records for bass solo. In 1996 he worked with Butch Morris for the Conduction n° 61 in Berlin, and between the other musicians he collaborated with there are Cecil Taylor, Anthony Braxton, Roswell Rudd, Han Bennink, Tim Berne, Ernst Reijseger.

How's the music on this record? It is music fully integrated in the history of improvised music. Long flows, abruptly interruptions, triple chords, silence, all the rethoric elements of improvisation are here present to be enjoyed by the fans of this style of music. I love it. Anyway, there's no progress. This album is symptomatic of a more general situation in the world of improvised music nowadays. Many new musicians are trying to develop their own style, more or less disengaged from the blue notes and the mood of african-american music as it happens from the 1970s, but sometimes the music is poorer than the one developed by the likes of Evan Parker or Peter Brotzmann.

On the other hand, you have a bunch of musicians, as the ones featured in this record, who master just fine their own art, and who fit perfectly in the history of improvised music. The fact that they aren't renovating it, creating NEW music, is not their own fault. We lack, I believe, a new vision of the world, a new vision of society, as musicians as Anthony Braxton or Don Cherry had in the past. This lack is part of our heritage, it is the real problem. Music comes after. But for the moment, I invite you to enjoy this music as brilliant as it is.  

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Paolo Sorge - Triplain (Improvvisatore Involontario, 2016

Music is a strange thing nowaday. The music business has been exploded, so there are myriads of little labels publishing more or less good music. But it's hard to find out a musician that has a vision, as some of the people I interviewed in this blog during the past years. In this period of time in which I haven't written a single word, I sometimes received some material, but most of it was retro-garde. Music that reminds of the jazz of the past, music good for dinner clubs. I also did, with my camera, the cover for the album of a jazz pianist who is releasing this album of songs, everyone with a proper singer, but it's an album that is far from the lands and the temperatures of Complete Communion, so you won't find a review here.

But this album is different. It was sent to me a couple of days ago by the label itself, and the first thing that intrigued me is that Paolo Sorge, responsible for the project and leader of the trio, played in 2006 with Butch Morris. Mr Morris is a musician I love, and I thought it was well worth a listening. And in fact, it is. Paolo Sorge is a musician born in Catania in 1968. He is both a guitarist and a composer, and his work is well known in Italy and Europe. His collaborations feature the likes of Stefano Maltese, Michel Godard, Guido Mazzon, Butch Morris, Ab Baars, Keith Tippett, Don Byron, Elliott Sharp and many others. In 2004 he founded with drummer Francesco Cusa the label Improvvisatore Involontario, that is also the base for an artistic movement who provides the world of improvised music with many interesting artists.

Paolo Sorge
The trio featured in the album Triplain is completed by bassist Gabriele Evangelista and drummer Francesco Cusa. Gabriele, after graduating, played with orchestras and chamber groups doing classical music. After that period he discovered improvisation and studied with Scott Colley and Salvatore Bonafede. Since 2010 he is part of the Enrico Rava quintet known as Enrico Rava Tribe. Cusa, co-founder of the Bassesfere collective, is very active in the field of music for films, theatre dance and visual arts. He collaborates with many bands and groups, leaving a deep trace in the world of improvised music during this period. So, if you think that this trio is made up of three personalities, two more avant-oriented, and one more classically-trained, you can have, even without a single listening, an idea of the music you will find in this record.

Triplain is a record made of vibrant sounds and nice textures. It passes from the irony of Divergenze, the opening track, to the volatile quality surrounding the solid groove of Ciclosfera, where the atmosphere is more dense. In the middle, you have more whispered pieces like Floating, or Idea 2 where drums, not bass, are responsible for the groove, the nice guitar climaxes of Slonimskys Domino, the syncopations of Triplain, the melancholy barely hidden through the textures of TreDueNove.

How can we call this music? For sure as 'post-avantgarde', since the musicians involved put their own styles together in order to obtain a sound that is carrying with it different experiences all grown in our countries since the affirmation of improvised music as an European language. His limits is that it talks to itself and to the history of European improvised music nowadays, in a period of nostalgia – but I would say 'riflusso' in my own native language, that is slightly different – in which no one is crying or screaming, and everybody obeys. Can music be part of the oppression or it has to be part of the revolt? But this record, anyway, is worth a listening. 

Line Up: Paolo Sorge guitar and compositions, Gabriele Evangelista double bass, Francesco Cusa drums - Tracklist: Divergenze, Floating, Idea Due, Ciclosfera, Slonimskys Domino, Triplain, TreDueNove