Samo Salamon/Tony Malaby/Roberto Dani

Travelling Moving Breathing
Clean Feed CF 468 CD

Taking on more challenges, Slovakian guitarist Samo Salamon sets up a session where he matches musical wits with long-time associate, Italian drummer Roberto Dani and American saxophonist Tony Malaby, on tracks that revel in exploratory tensions, but never skirt the tradition long enough to be unpalatable. In his compositions and performances, Salamon, who in the past has recorded with everyone from Gerald Cleaver to Dominique Pifarely, helps turn string buzzes, reed split tones and irregular drum shits into a notable program,

On call for everyone from Mario Pavone to Benoît Delbecq, Malaby adopts a tough tenor tone to many of these tunes or concentrated flutters from his soprano sax on others. He also works on volume and pitch control, often combining with guitar licks to attain a taut interface. “Breathing’ and “Grey Matter” provide contrasting instances of these approaches.

With an introduction made up of key percussion that upsurges to encompass distant soprano peeps, “Breathing” is layered with in-and-out-of-tune twangs from Salamon that encompass thumb-popped beats and measured drum pops. The climax features tone flutter from Malaby that manage to simultaneously move circularly and chromatically. The CD’s longest track, “Grey Matter” is constructed with an equivalent cerebral output, but the sax notes, drum rolls and guitar strokes germinate like unfolding rose petals to reach a ballad concept. As Malaby’s line stays straight-ahead, the guitarist bounces between tonality and atonality, before settling into equivalent comping. Stretching the theme to its utmost, the reed lines suggest an intelligent quiet storm.

With similar tossing of phrases and tones back-and-forth from guitar to saxophone and with Dani serving as second to each dualist in turn, the trio exposes variety of moods. “Traveling without Motion” for instance moves from a showcase for off-key freak notes from Malaby, harmonized with guitar riffs to a near-Iberian melody; while “Moving Target” is a hearty swinger based on sprawling drum beats, fuzz-tone guitar drones and low-pitched slurs from the reedist. In fact the concluding “Pedro Is Clean” manages to roll reed honks and split tones, evenly pulsed drum beats and a spray of distorted twangs from Salamon into a resounding rhythm piece, crowned with a dazzling coda consisting of a horn toot and a drum pop.

There have been some unpalatable detours on the way, but each subsequent Salamon disc confirms his steadying maturity as a composer and player on the international scene.

—Ken Waxman

Track Listing: 1. Dephony 2. Moving Target 3. Breathing 4. Grey Matter 5. Traveling without Motion 6. Too Much 7. Kei's Dream 8. Arnold 9. Pedro Is Clean

Personnel: Tony Malaby (tenor and soprano saxophones); Samo Salamon (guitar) and Roberto Dani (drums)