December 27, 2018
NotTwo MW 972-2
Augmenting the auditory parameters of the baritone saxophone and clarinet in this one-horn-one-piano-and-percussion recital is Italian reedist Marco Colonna. Colonna, whose experience encompasses the performance of notated music for clarinet, improvisations with the likes of Silvia Bolognesi and Eugenio Colombo and duo concerts featuring himself and poet Alberto Masal, has come up with a unique setting for Agrakal, which is a Cabilian word for the Mediterranean sea. Here the extended techniques displayed by the hefty saxophone are met by equivalent textural extensions by Catalan Agustí Fernández’s piano and Slovenian Zlatko Kaučič drums and percussion.
Although defined as an extended first track, “Waves of Perceptions” and subsequent briefer ones, the following improvisations don’t really shift perceptively until the final selection which moves in a restrained balladic mode, as Colonna propels diminutive folkloric breaths from his clarinet. Before that the challenge has been to demonstrate how many variations on a squiggly narrative can be showcased. So as the saxophonist moves his low-pitched exposition from burrowing snorts to extravagant split tones and flattement, Kaučič’s clip-clop drumming and Fernández’s key and string stroking which moves from flowery to frenetic, produce their own thematic variations which remarkably still intersect with the reed narration and move it forward. Both the Catalan and Slovenian are experienced in this sport if free-form give-and-take having partnered such sonic sophisticates as Barry Guy and Evan Parker over the years.
While the percussion backing evolves to become more primal and even primitive sounding, the pianist takes his sonic allusions away from the keyboard. Instead he focuses on the rasps and shrills that result from plucking, striking and stopping the soundboard’s wound strings so that the piano becomes as much a percussive as a string instrument. By the climax, low-pitched burps from Colonna’s horn meet zither-like strums from Fernández’s strings without upsetting the extended improvisation’s basic equilibrium.
Moving the interface through expressive peaks and valleys that encompass asides as characteristic as loon-like whines from the saxophonist, jumping arpeggios from the keyboard and rim-shot rebounds from the drummer the three reach a straight-ahead climax of mutual expressiveness which in turn leads to the final diminuendo.
Fernández’s and Kaučič’s skills and innovations are well known. Agrakal proves that Colonna too can hold his own in fast company.
Track Listing: 1. Waves of Perceptions 2. Drops 3. Cellular 4. From The Ground to the Sky 5. Textures of Nowhere 6. Coming Back
Personnel: Marco Colonna (clarinet and baritone saxophone); Agustí Fernández (piano) and Zlatko Kaučič (drums and percussion)