Quínteros/Gallio/Elgier/Von Schultz

Mokita
Creative Sources CS 529 CD

Delon/Maira/Morales/Wissel

Confianza & Geduld

Nurnuchtnur LC 5245

As the consciousness has taken hold that (North) American hegemony in improvised music has come to an end, the Eurocentric concept must be dealt with as well. There’s a whole big world out there with many exceptional players and to take one continental instance, South Americans enriching the tradition. These players include not only prolific expatriates like Brazil’s Ivo Perelman, but those who either move between the continents or stay focused in their home countries.

Speaking of a continent of almost 423 million people as an entity is another First World trap of course. But these CDs provide defining accounts of the Free Music scene in two of the continent’s largest countries. Affiliated in each is a European reed player whose contributions attach seamlessly to the others’ work. Confianza & Geduld for instance, match the talents of Köln-based prepared alto saxophonist Georg Wissel, with those of three Free Music explorers from Santiago: Marcelo Maira playing flutes, tenor saxophone and objects; Ignacio Morales on prepared zither, electronics and, objects and Christian Delon on electronics, tapes, and field recordings. Meanwhile Mokita features Basel-native Christoph Gallio on soprano and alto saxophones with three Free Jazz players from Buenos Aires: pianist Alex Elgier, cellist Cecilia Quínteros and drummer Marcelo Von Schultz.

The contrasts between Free Music and Free Jazz are obvious almost as soon as the first tone sounds. Someone who has recorded with Paul Lytton and Simon Rummel, Wissel’s reductionist tongue flutters and pops easily work his way inside the instant compositions that are advanced by clanging objects and electronics-like whizzes as well as pre-recorded keyboard-like textures and rhythmic shakes and strokes. Midway through “25:12” for example, he and Maira, who has also played in Germany, up the ante with multphonics cadenzas that encompass cries, snuffles, body tube growls and reed bites. These shove the exposition into Energy Music territory, but the definition is tempered by equivalent granular synthesis, percussive object scrapes and human-styled cries from the instruments. Finally a climax that mates long-line reed trills with oscillated wave forms, both define the electro-acoustic considerations and spin the tune to an oblique ending. The subsequent “15:12” offers more of the same, except that the reed fluttering is further divided into hisses, buzzes puffs and whistles, in order to provide 21st century decorations to the plain broadcloth of tremolo organ riffs that buoy the bottom.

Operating as if the New Thing was still new, Mokita on the other CD attack the program like a 1960s ensemble with Gallio, best known for his Day & Taxi trios, in the lead, spewing split tones, freak notes and irregular vibrations from his horn, while drummer Von Schultz passionately chops the beat into smaller and smaller ruffs and Elgier slaps clunky cadenzas from the keyboard. Meanwhile Quínteros, who originated the quartet and has done everything from composing cello quarts to playing alongside folks like Lotte Anker and Andrew Drury, assails the narratives with seemingly limitless harsh string sprawls. Personifying the polyphonic outcome that is almost equal parts reed snarls, drum claps, cello squeaks and keyboard pumps, the band’s extended showcase is the nearly 20½ minute “Persea Lingue”. Starting off with cymbal resonation and Morse-code like dabs from Gallio, processional piano pacing quickly turns to dynamic glissandi to accompany spiccato string strokes and snarly saxophone trills. From then on the track unfolds in interchanging high-and-low pitches and fast and-slow tempos, swelling and deflating whether the focus is on crying saxophone trills, splintered and stopping cello sweeps or alternately a sprinkle of keyboard pushes or clunky percussion continuum. Eventually a duet of repeated reed phrases and piano tinkles is consolidated with outstanding pressurized bow sweeps from Quínteros.

While it might sound reductionist to say that the skilful improvisation exhibited on these discs would make them indistinguishable from similar ensembles recorded in North America or Europe, it shouldn’t. High levels of creativity aren’t nationalistic.

—Ken Waxman

Track Listing: Confianza: 1: 25:12 2: 15:12

Personnel: Confianza: Georg Wissel (prepared alto saxophone); Marcelo Maira (flutes, tenor saxophone and objects); Ignacio Morales (prepared zither, electronics and objects) and Christian Delon (electronics, tapes and field recordings)

Track Listing: Mokita: 1. Prosopis Ferox 2. Tepu 3. Persea Lingue 4. Inga

Personnel: Mokita: Christoph Gallio (soprano and alto saxophones); Alex Elgier (piano); Cecilia Quínteros (cello) and Marcelo Von Schultz (drums)