Lili & Marleen
Clean Feed CF 476 CD

Rupp, Rogers, Schubert

Three Stories

Relative Pitch Records RPR 1074

Two European CDs dedicated to a guitar-reeds partnership indicate individual, but equally valid methods of attaining Free Music depictions. Gratification comes with documenting how cannily each trio reaches its apogee.

Both sessions are undeniably trio music as well, with the third partner aiding each trio’s definition. For instance the more tune-oriented eight track Lili & Marleen is shaped by the understated, yet penetrating percussion work of Marcos Baggiani, Buenos Aires-born and an Amsterdam resident since the turn of the century. The C.B.G. or Celano/Baggiani Group consists of him, fellow Argentinean-in-Amsterdam, guitarist Guillermo Celano, with additional contributors. In this case it`s Antwerp multi-reedist Joachim Badenhorst, best-known for his association with Han Bennink. Wholeheartedly dedicated to free-form exploration in comparison, Three Stories features two Berlin-based German improvisers: guitarist Olaf Rupp and soprano saxophonist Frank Paul Schubert. Additionally their foil here is long-time French resident, Paul Rogers from the United Kingdom, who plays a custom-designed 7-string double bass.

While the concluding “Yeast” rises enough to provide a mini-showcase for the dexterous picking of Rupp, who works equally well in solo, small group and large ensemble situations, each track can be defined as some variation on overall tone investigations. Here the guitarist’s strategy moves from bottleneck-styled clanks, folksy, single-string asides and uproarious twisting distortions. Rogers’ chiming pizzicato and line-swelling Arco sweeps craftily amplify or second the guitar narrative, which is further decorated with altissimo beeps and shrieks or growling flutters from the saxophonist that create a non-rupturing connection.

This tripartite cooperation is writ particularly large on the nearly 32-minute introductory “Rain”, which takes a path more meandering than that of a rain-water swollen stream. This time Rogers, known for his affiliation with the Mujician quartet and Schubert, who has worked with everyone from Alexander von Schlippenbach to Andreas Willers, and is equally proficient on alto saxophone, set the pace alongside Rupp. Dependent on a firm downward-moving double bass pulse and yodeling nasal reed bites, the irregular asides that define the exposition are anchored by rugged rhythm-guitar strokes. Amazingly, as the narrative passes among the three, bravura collective skills are such that sometimes it’s impossible to ascribe a timbre to one particular instrument. During the piece’s concluding third tranche as string pressure and reed split tones harden, the vibrating tones produced by each also resemble rippling flanged electronic instances. Schubert’s staccato tongue slaps, Rupp’s buzzing string thrusts and Rogers bridging rubs wrap up the improvisation, while leaving the strong impression that the trio could start up again with equal facility at any time.

With most of the other CD made up of self-contained compositions by each member of the band, the session is a different as waffles and wheat beer. Sound keys appear to be completion rather than extension. At the same time various tracks feature particular trio members. “Pupupupo”, for instance vibrates with a rock’em-sock’em beat from Baggiani featuring rolls, pops and paradiddles before bell pings usher in Duane Eddy-like twangs from Celano plus a shaky reed vibrato that just skirts Pop music territory. A bass clarinet intermezzo, “Inferno Baby” departs from its Rat Pack-like title to revel a calm mediation constructed out of chalumeau puffs, slurred string fingering and drum rolls. Almost an antithesis to the former, “Los Gauchos”, appropriately composed by Celano, features filigree guitar plinks, drum shuffles and some reed overblowing, adding up to a narrative that appears to equally salute rhythms from Latin America and R&B.

Whether the guitar playing is upfront in crammed notes into each bar or vibrating with single-string relaxation; whether Badenhorst moving among clarinet, bass clarinet and tenor saxophone plays with tongue flutters or stretched aggressive split tones; and whether the percussion strategy includes almost noiseless rubs or rowdy resonations, close connections among the three are evident. Decisive composition interpretation and free-form improvising are given equal weight leading to a program that’s balanced enough to confirm meaningful creativity. Free form or somewhat formal, each trio has something to offer.

—Ken Waxman

Track Listing: Three: 1. Rain 2. Curry 3. Yeast

Personnel: Three: Frank Paul Schubert (soprano saxophone); Olaf Rupp (guitar) and Paul Rogers (7-string bass)

Track Listing: Lili: 1. By Norbert Schulze 2. Inferno Baby 3. Cain & Abel 4. Los Gauchos 5. Comacina Dreaming 6. Abel & Cain 7. Paranoid 8. Pupupupo

Personnel: Lili: Joachim Badenhorst (clarinet, bass clarinet and tenor saxophone); Guillermo Celano (guitar) and Marcos Baggiani (drums)