January 21, 2019
Umlaut Records umfr-cd23
FMR Records FMR CD491-0618
Elaborations in balanced improvisation that sidestep Chamber Jazz delicacy, these trans-European trios alter one instrument in the configuration – as well as performing concepts – to create equally valid musical environments. Musæum Clausum is made up of two French Umlaut Big Band members, cornetist Louis Laurain and bassist Sebastien Beliah with German drummer Hannes Lingens. Meanwhile the Frame Trio consists of Chamber 4 members, trumpeter Luís Vicente and guitarist Marcelo dos Reis from Portugal, plus Belgian bassist Nils Vermeulen. Surprisingly enough it’s the drum-less trio which projects a throbbing rhythmic feel, while Musæum Clausum is more committed to stable undulations with few sonic peaks and valleys.
Very much of a piece, the three tracks on the French-German CD are concerned with languid timbral elaborations, propelled via brief drum shakes, paced thumps from the bass and flutter-tongued shading from the cornet player. Throughout, the ripened narrative doesn’t expand and fade but widens cornucopia-like to make more space for guitar-like filigree from Beliah, rumbles and scratches from Lingens and mouthpiece kisses from Laurain. Before the metronome-like paced suite is completed with even sparser interaction, sequences of elevated but reined-in emotion are noticeable. One climax is reached midway through especially with well-placed brass shakes, bass string chording and thicker drum smacks at the mid-point of “Rareties in Pictures: A Large Submarine Landscape/a Night Piece”. Having demonstrated that weighty textures can be avoided by choice not ability, the contrapuntal theme variations continue in foreshortened slow-moving motifs sweeping along the listener in the process.
While abject lyricism is also part of Vicente’s palate coloring on Luminária, its six related tracks depend most on rugged buzz-saw-like strokes from Vermeulen and string shuffles and unvarying plucks from dos Reis that serve as counterpoint to the trumpeter’s fluttering side and slide tropes. More expressly Jazz-like then the other disc, rasgueado string strokes remain as close to swing cadences as an exploratory session like this needs.
As scratching and twanging guitar lines and double bass thwacks make up the dedicated rhythm that all the way to the end provides the swaying bottom, on which the trumpeter’s brassy whines and whistles can prod the sequences forward, the trio’s most profound work occurs in the penultimate “Luminária III” and “Luminária IV” adaptations. The former pushes out all the stops to instrumentally create the equivalent of canvas whose supposedly clashing colors blend on closer examination. And in this case the sonic tinctures are half-valve brass effects, slurred guitar fingering and animated slap bass tones. “Luminária IV” extends Vermeulen’s bass line to a nearly all-encompassing buzz that provides even more emphasis upon which Vicente’s near-human whistles and cries evolve in perfect symmetry with dos Reis’ delicate finger-picking. The climax is an otherworldly contrapuntal trumpet blast.
Confirmation that the number of players and instruments used in profound improvisational ensembles can vary greatly. What is needed though is that the group members possess the skill and cohesion to produce desired results.
Track Listing: Musæum: 1. A la Ventura Part 1 & 2 2. Rareties in Pictures: A Large Submarine Landscape/a Night Piece 3. Remarquable Books
Track Listing: Musæum: Louis Laurain (cornet); Sebastien Beliah (bass) and Hannes Lingens (drums)
Track Listing: Luminária 1. Luminária I 2. Luminária II 3. Luminária III 4, Luminária IV 5. Luminária V 6. Luminária VI
Personnel: Luminária: Luís Vicente (trumpet); Marcelo dos Reis (guitar) and Nils Vermeulen (bass)