Flinn/Lytle/Maroney Trio

Itinerant
Creative Sources CS 472 CD

Sundogs

Sundogs

Fundacja Sluchaj FSR 10

Although the Polish trio Sundogs is more committed to electro-acoustic interface than the American Flinn/Lytle/Maroney Trio, what appear to be two discs of clarinet-based improvisation is in fact erudite sound research, but divorced from any pretentiousness.

Veterans, Iowa-based bass and contrabass clarinetist Michael Lytle, hyperpianist Denman Maroney and percussionist Stephen Flinn have been involved in this sort of boundary-pushing investigation for many decades having worked with a orchestra-sized cast of musicians, including Nick Didkovsky, Cecil Taylor, Gerry Hemingway, Steve Beresford and Caroline Kraabel to pick a few at random. Many decades younger the Sundogs started improvising a time where electronic and free music, to which the Yanks contributed developments, was as present as Bop or notated sounds. Wrocław-based clarinetist and bass clarinetist Mateusz Rybicki has been working in ensembles with bassist Zbigniew Kozera since 2012. Both have also played with the likes of Peter Brötzmann, Dominik Strycharski and Wacław Zimpl. Equipped with percussion, objects, prepared oven-tray, electronics, cymbals, drums, environment, Samuel Hall is a European-based Melbourne native who besides working with dancers and visual artists has played with Adam Pultz Melbey and Akira Sakata among others.

Whistling percussion, thin watery reed sips and amplified dissonance from the hyperpiano’s strings serve notice from Itinerant’s first untitled rack that the diversified improvisations have been put together further past even the conventions of Free Jazz into the realm of Free or even absolute Music. Without false virtuosity however, the suggestion of at least two or three more voices beside the trio’s initial sounds are heard or sensed throughout. Occasionally a pleading clarinet peep or coloratura reed strut, a cymbal slash or the buzz of stopped string and picked keys resolve an instrument’s identity. But just as often a timbre could result from the movements of either of at least two players. While the exposition may be stretched thinner and thinner the blurry mass resulting defines group or selfless music making. Eventually after some reasonable tone separations have been probed, the trio reaches a climax on the final track. Subtly set up, swift, sharp string strums and key clicks, percussion clanks and later clarinet squeaks and snorts, a defining pure tone from the clarinet dissolves into the droning linkage, and then jiggles into silence.

Buzzes, crackles and processed electronics emphatically smack against one another at the beginning of “KAYE” on the Sundog’s CD. Although a rolling bass line cements the bottom as it does through most of the subsequent eight tracks, the piece is half-finished before an identifiable clarinet peep or woody rim shot can be described. The chief difference between this and the previous CDs is that the Polish trio has abandoned almost all references to Jazz methodology.

Meanwhile the dominate figure seems to be Hall, whose trick bag of found, prepared and electrified interjections is more prominent than any of his carefully positioned cymbal cracks or drum top slides and slaps. There are even track such as “DAFNE’ where Kozera’s preparations bled with Hall’s vibrating wave forms leave the shape of the sound to be determined by Rybicki’s clarinet. During its course he moves from wide-open chalumeau puffs to flutter-tongued coloratura as the rolling pulls, cackles and rolls from the other two inflate the narrative to almost unbearable pressure.

There are moments of soft thematic lyricism nix3ed in with Hall’s night bell-tolling-like cymbal raps and Kozera’s grandfather click-like downward winding on “3836” as well as a duet between Rybicki’s arching repetition of lower-pitched reed phrases and all the clamor Hall can extract from whacking bells, and oven tray, drum skins and popping bottle tops on “ALAUDIA”, but the key points about these sequences is that neither the comforting nor the colliding timbres predominate. Eventually when the final peep and rub and oscillation has faded, it’s obvious that the Sundogs have created a fluid, communicative program. Along with Flinn/Lytle/Maroney they confirm that tone recognition doesn’t necessarily have to exist for superior programs.

—Ken Waxman

Track Listing: Itinerant: 1. (5:47) 2. (12:03) 3. (10:21) 4. (9:41)

Personnel: Itinerant: Michael Lytle (bass and contrabass clarinet); Denman Maroney (hyperpiano) and Stephen Flinn (percussion)

Track Listing: Sundogs: 1. KAYE 2. ERIE 3. DAFNE 4. KALLIOPE 5. 3836 6. EUNAMIA 7. SACHIKO 8. ALAUDIA 9.UMINEKO

Personnel: Sundogs: Mateusz Rybicki (clarinet, bass clarinet, preparations); Zbigniew Kozera (bass, preparations, objects) and Samuel Hall (percussion, objects,, prepared oven-tray, electronics, cymbals, drums, environment)