September 1, 2018
Cene Resnik Trio/Watch for Dogs
Shades of Colors
NotTwo MW 959-2
Igor Lumpert & Innertexture
Clean Feed CF 462 CD
Confirmation once again of the universality of improvised music, as well as testimony that heightened creativity may result from a shared background, are these CDs headed by Slovenian tenor saxophonists. Arguably that part of the former Yugoslavia, which has benefitted the most from that patched-together country’s break-up, since its birth in 1991 the new country has flourished, with an unexpected by-product exposure for adventurous musicians.
Novo Mesto-born Igor Lumpert has followed one particular path. After studies and gigs in Austria and Germany, he moved to New York in 2000, and the Brooklyn-recorded Eleven otherwise features American players. While he also studied in Austria, Cene Resnik elected to stay closer to home; he lives and works in Ljubljana. Recorded in Crngrob, Slovenia, Shades of Colors demonstrates Resnik’s mastery of free improvisation just as Eleven establishes Lumpert comfort with more restrained Jazz. Crucially Resnik’s Watch for Dogs Trio includes two players who often work together locally: Slovenian percussionist Zlatko Kaučič and bassist Giovanni Maier, who hails from nearby Trieste, Italy.
From the top, Resnik, Kaučič and Maier develop a strategy which utilizes the strengths of the rhythm section as the saxophonist explores the overtone limits of his instrument. The nearly 16-minute “Zemlja (Suite of Crngrob)” exemplifies this concept at its broadest. Backed by positioned thumps from the drummer and string rumbling from the bassist, the saxophonist sophisticatedly extends the theme via multiphonic trills, growls and finely focused runs, creating a near visual picture of controlled pastoralism modified with urbanized exploration. Add yeoman-strength bowing from Maier and coloration from Kaučič’s cymbal clanks and the epitome of calm timbral mastery is exhibited.
With the briefer tracks that follow amplifications and concentrations of what precedes them, this series of codas makes space for staccato and slurred reed notes, swelling double-bass bow action and abundant drum rhythms. Earlier slap-tongue tone-stretching from Resnik moves to the sidelines on “Kosovelovo domotožje” to give Maier a showcase for his sul ponicello triple stopping and reverses. Meanwhile the percussionist confirms his skill on kit and cymbals throughout, weaving color insertions and patterning cadences into the tracks with surgical precision. Resnik, who earlier on has shown how mainstream references can be worked into a Free-Jazz session without lurching into sweetness, exits the session with honks, bites and blasts , backed by harsh string plucks. Titles of the last and penultimate compositions define what transpired: “Articulation complete” and finally “Conversations that never stop”.
Lumpert & Innertexture are also involved with conversations. But despite high-quality contributions from all concerns, it often appears as if too many guests have been invited to the party. The basic band consists of Lumpert, Greg Ward on alto saxophone, bassist Chris Tordini and drummer Kenny Grohowski, with trumpeter Jonathan Finlayson guesting on two tracks and bass clarinetist John Ellis on one. Frankly the extra horns aren’t needed. From the start the quartet tracks are the most fully realized, with Lumpert and Grohowski developing a Trane-Elvin routine that plays upon and off each other’s strengths, Ward’s swift, buzz-saw tone creates an accomplished foil to the tenor saxophonist’s style, while Tordini steadies the rhythm. “XmD” and “Paha” show how staccato snarls and moderated tone slips can play out between two distinctive reedists, complementing and balancing coloratura reed bites and moderated chalumeau slurs as pinpointed cymbal raps and corrosive ruffs from the drummer back up the sound strategies. Although the trumpet exposition expands initial expositions, especially on the funky title tune, which also features Grohowski’s fiery crackle, pops and bounces; and while bass clarinet slurs produce a stop-time bounce to the harmonies in its one outing, what’s gained from a fuller sound is lost in cohesion. The space allocated would have better served the quartet’s individual identity with more room for Tordini as well as other expressions of Innertexture’s band identity.
Be that as it may, both CDs reflect mature work by developing Slovenian saxophonists. On the evidence here, Resnik has reached a notable plateau on which he can further build, while the singular talents of Lumpert and associates could in the future be better organized with more thoughts to group cohesion.
Track Listing: Shades: 1. Shades of colors 2. Kraljeva slika 3. Kosovelovo domotožje 4. Zemlja
(Suite of Crngrob) 5. Volcano — The Steamer 6. Thieves came quietly 7. Agitación natural 8. Satellites 9. Articulation complete 10. Conversations that never stop
Personnel: Shades: Cene Resnik (tenor saxophone); Giovanni Maier (bass) and Zlatko Kaučič (drums and cymbals)
Track Listing: Eleven: 1. 13th of August 2. XmD 3. Poseidon* 4. Paha 5. Eleven* 6. Brela+
Personnel: Eleven: Jonathan Finlayson (trumpet); John Ellis (bass clarinet)+; Greg Ward (alto saxophone); Igor Lumpert (tenor saxophone); Chris Tordini (bass) and Kenny Grohowski (drums)