Elan Pauer

Yamaha/Speed
Creative Sources CS 412 CD

Eric Zinman

Zither Gods

Improvising Beings ib58

Whether concentrating on particular key patterns or the breath of orchestral textures available from a keyboard, solo piano digressions are unlike any other instrument’s singular presentation. Especially when it comes to the rarified atmosphere of pure improvised music, the patterns, programs and precision expressed is only limited by the conceptualization involved. Leipzig-based Elan Pauer and Boston native Eric Zinman may be playing the same basic instrument, but the results couldn’t be more different. Trying to avoid shibboleths, it still appears as if Pauer has a European take on the two extended and one short track that make up Yamaha/Speed, while Zinman’s 13 tracks are as wedded to American idioms as if they were wrapped in Old Glory.

As much movement and color Pauer, who has recorded with the likes of saxophonist Ernst-Ludwig Petrowsky and drummer Christian Lillinger, brings to his performance, an arrhythmic ennui hangs over the tracks. Obviously about 60 years after Free Music asserted itself, the German’s idea of rhythmic movement is different from the American’s. But in the same way, Zinman, who has recorded with stylists as different as bassist Benjamin Duboc and drummer Syd Smart, maintains links to a swinging beat, no matter how distant from that base his playing roams. Of course he cheats a bit, by also vibrating cymbals and parts of a drum kit as he plays.

Initially invested with moderato keyboard hunt-and-peck and inner string slashing, Pauer’s “Yamaha” becomes animated enough by its mid-section to start to skip along. Like a visual artist obsessively squeezing more oil paint onto an already paint-thickened multi-hued canvas, he rambles over the keys to saturate the evolving lines with maximum sonic tinctures. Reaching a crescendo, he slides the multiplied timbres into becoming a more regularized ramble. “Speed” offers more of the same, although the introductory section is more of an amble than a race. Conjuring up more power from the piano’s lower-pitched regions, pressurized glissandi and notes spill over the keyboard. With the subsequent pile up both massive and moving as the piece subsides.

Taking on the multi-string zither-like properties of the inner-piano motion in tandem with keyboard sprints, Zinman extends the piano functions into a tension-ridden narrative at the same time as he holds to simple rhythms to keep it from disintegrating in musical outer space. Recorded on various pianos in different places, by the fourth and fifth tracks, “The Story of L Part 1” and “The Story of L Part 2” though, his playing has become earthbound enough to dig below the surface to the darkest, most pressurized part of the instrument. As restraint kicks in so does ambidextrous interpolations, with a melody from one hand beginning even before a completely different one propelled by the other hand finishes. While other tracks demonstrate that without sacrificing rhythm, he can indulge in languid romantic-styled expositions; his distinguishing operations are taken with tremolo echoes. Galloping along “The Adventures of the “Yippy Coyote Dance Orchestra Part 1” and “The Adventures of the Yippy Coyote Dance Orchestra Part 2” pile up staccato keyboard extensions into small piles of accented, tones that sluice and slide with their own rhythm. By “… Part 2” the resolution involves speedy key clipping and rounded sweeps.

Apt demonstration of unavoidable variances when it comes to piano improvisation, either CD is self-contained enough to keep the listener engrossed.

—Ken Waxman

Track Listing: Yamaha: 1. Yamaha 2. Speed 3. Farewell

Personnel: Yamaha: Elan Pauer (Yamaha CFX piano)

Track Listing: Zither: 1. Zither Gods 2. Dance Sequence Spring 2012 3. Winter Song 4. The Story of L Part 1 5. The Story of L Part 2 6. Tribal Piano 7. The Wheel of Sharp Weapons 8. Outpost 2 9. The Adventures of the Yippy Coyote Dance Orchestra Part 1 10. The Adventures of the Yippy Coyote Dance Orchestra Part 2 11. Wayeh...Owayah O Wayeh 12. The Harp in the Garden of the Melting Clock 13. Zither Gods Coda.

Personnel: Zither: Eric Zinman (piano)