Parma Frontiere PF-CD 004

Vinny Golia/Gianni Mimmo


Amirani AMRN 057/Nine Winds Records NWCD 0346

Xavier Charles/Jacques Di Donato


Protagoniste PROTA 1801

Unaccompanied reed duos aren’t the easiest configurations in which to be involved. That’s because both musicians have to not only create enough distinctive timbres to assert his or her particular vision(s), but also have the scope to suggest formulae which complement or challenge the other player’s ideas as the program moves forward. Using a collection of saxophones and clarinets the duos here provide their distinctive takes on the reed duo challenge. One CD unites dynamic improvisers from two different countries for nine interpretations; one features two French clarinetists, who started as teacher and pupil, incisively interpreting 14 selections; while the 12 creations on the third CD should be the closest knit since the player are brothers.

American reed polymath Vinny Golia, who plays every reed instrument extant, limits himself to soprillo and sopranino saxophones, Bb and A Basset clarinets, piccolo and alto flutes on Explicit, while Italian Gianni Mimmo concentrates on soprano saxophone. Both veterans of ensembles of every size, cooperation between the two is quickly evident. Higher and lower pitched contrapuntal or reciprocal flutters are quickly on display and by “Elegy Implications”, the second track, which is anything but somber, they’ve worked out a responsive strategy as Golia puffs out a chromatic clarinet line which Mimmo then decorates with peeps and trills. However when Golia introduces textures from other instruments that mesh with Mimmo’s extended techniques the effect is that of a larger reed ensemble shrilling high pitches to the end.

This sort of affiliation continues throughout the disc, which some tracks such as “Pull the Chutes”, warmer, although concerned with reedy polyphony and ending with harsh spetrofluctuation; or more speedy and frenetic ones like “With Friends like These” where the spikier tones are advanced by both players, often at dog-whistle pitches and filled with stark reed bites and false register dips, although climaxing with linear movement. The most severe standoff occurs on the concluding “Where’s my Champagne” as sopranino split tones with a near human cry meet soprano hisses that widen into mouth percussion before the dissected piece is reconnected. “De Chirico” however is the longest and most realized duet. After one mid range vibration follows its linear path, it’s soon joined by a second line whose hissing and shrilling establishes its individuality. While the elaboration includes harsh peeps and pitch slides, the finale compounds the double contrapuntal tones into one affiliated lower pitch.

Beginning in 1990 as a student of clarinet master Jacques Di Donato in Ville d’Avray, Xavier Charles was soon adding his clarinet to professional projects with Di Donato, recording with the older player’s ensembles, when not involved in concertizing with the likes of Axel Dörner. The 24 brief improvisations on Ilex are the most recent recordings by the two clarinetists. Throughout straight-ahead licks are put aside for a textbook collection of extended techniques from rounded dual puffs or circular upsurges to singular inner-horn digs or flat line air production. Nuanced and sophisticated, the harmonization or confrontations are done in the spirit of opening up the duets to new sounds and ideas rather than bravado. This back and forth can take the form of rhythmic tongue pops with affiliated rococo trills on “acer” all the way to the penultimate “multi-tond” (sic), which moves as if a solid textural mass has been gashed with brief reed shakes, only to expand into open-horn harmonies before a shrilling fade. Peeps, growls and wave form undulations feature elsewhere, but “magnolia” followed by “râte” appears to give the greatest scope to interaction. The first is built around unison humming from both clarinets, until the sutured layers split into chalumeau investigation from one player and watery slurs and reed bites from the others. Subsequently “râte” exposes expressive pealing tones, with the stratified polyphony only moving in stops and starts. The final “clarinettes sous les pales” appends the helicopter and lawnmower noise which faintly have invaded the recording of this rural session before this. Rather than turning stentorian, the two reedists take the opposite track, hissing suspended colored air between the two.

Featuring almost no false or dissonant notes during Overlays’ evolution, the reason for NovoTono’s reed consistency may be that siblings Adalberto Ferrari playing clarinet, bass and contra-alto clarinets and soprano saxophone, and bass clarinetist Andrea Ferrari are the protagonists. That said both brothers’ melodies include motifs that seem instantly familiar/ Plus this disc is the only one to include an intermezzo that’s a reworking of Ornette Coleman’s “Lonely Woman” with Roscoe Mitchell’s “Odwalla”. Even beside that, the Ferrari’s presentation appears to have chiseled the sharp edges from their interaction, leaving behind quickly moving, rhythm-oriented tunes. There’s even a touch of jollity that’s missing from the other two discs. Lively and linear, some of the near foot-patting compositions include “Density” and “Two Lakes”. Not that dense, the first is an exercise in tandem mouth pops and tongue stops, with the circular narrative smooth and pleasant even as lower-pitched snorts are introduced at the end. Rubato paced and coloratura pitched, “Two Lakes” contrasts some sentient snorts and higher-pitched squeaks, but ends swathed in reflective harmonies. “Magma’ is the standout track however. It includes an overlay of dual reed Klezmer and notated music-like tropes as well as split tones. Still the finale is melodic as are most of the tracks.

Sharp, flat or muted, these trios of dual reed sessions almost offer something for every musical taste – just as long as you’re attuned to modern music.

—Ken Waxman

Track Listing: Explicit: 1. Angular/Colliders 2. Elegy Implications 3. Pull the Chutes 4. De Chirico 5. First Chat 6. Birds Chat 7. Second Chat 8. With Friends like These 9. Where’s my Champagne?

Personnel: Explicit: Vinny Golia (soprillo and sopranino saxophones, Bb and A Basset clarinets, piccolo and alto flutes and Gianni Mimmo (soprano saxophone

Track Listing: Ilex: 1.if 2. bamboo 3.wisteria 4. comme l’ébène 5. acer 6. ilex 7. cerisier 8. acacia 9. magnolia 10. râte 11. amer coup de vent 12. le figuier 13. multi-tond 14. clarinettes sous les pales

Personnel: Ilex: Xavier Charles (clarinets and helicopter) and Jacques Di Donato (clarinets and lawn mower)

Track Listing: Overlays: 1. Idea 2. Sound Circles 3. Soprasso 4. Dance 5. Density 6. Half 7. Ragnomatto 8. Odwalla/Lonely Woman (Intemezzo) 9. Klezaround 10. Magma 11. Overfly 12. Two Lakes

Personnel: Overlays: Adalberto Ferrari (clarinet, bass and contra-alto clarinets and soprano saxophone) and Andrea Ferrari (bass clarinet)