Matthias Bauer

spontan in granit
Creative Sources CS 557 CD

Figuratively putting another string in his bow, Matthias Bauer limits himself to the balanced upright accessory plus the four strings of his double bass during these 18 brief intermezzos demonstrating bull fiddle virtuosity without bravado. The veteran Berlin-based improviser, who has over the years partnered with innovative players such as saxophonist Floros Floridis, drummer Baby Sommer and trumpeter Bill Dixon, among many others, easily confirms that he’s cunning and crafty enough to easily go it alone.

Exhibiting equal Arco and pizzicato facility, Bauer doesn’t limit himself to either style on selected tracks. In fact, a piece like “spontan in granit 16” is so open that the triple-stopping tremolo phrasing develops a third line that creates a stirring ostinato unrolling as the repeated patterns from other strings move chromatically. Furthermore as his plucks are magisterial from the first selection, it’s no surprise that a track such as “spontan in granit 5” can consist of moderated slaps and resounds that outline a crunching narrative which doubles in speed by the climax. Similarly his finger finesse encompasses relaxed guitar-like plucks on other pieces like “spontan in granit 9”, where the exposition pulsates to wider, knife-sharp stabs and then settles as a restrained finale.

Bow work isn’t neglected either as on “spontan in granit 18” and “spontan in granit 14”. On the first he alternates husky sweeps and multi-string strums, ending with a foray up and down the tightly wound strings to create a staccato, but not timbre-upsetting climax. This string scratching is used on “spontan in granit 14” in combination with sul tasto swipes which swiftly move from bridge to fingerboard and back again. Taking the narrative steadily downwards, by the end contrast between sul ponticello scrapes and individual plucks relaxes into restrained bounces.

With the greatest emphasis on story-telling as he advances the sounds, each of the brief tracks is like a chapter in a book or one in a collection of short stories. Like the latter as well, gratification from this program lies in hearing how masterfully Bauer constructs each episode.

—Ken Waxman

Track Listing: 1. spontan in granit 1 2. spontan in granit 2 3. spontan in granit 3 4. spontan in granit 4 5. spontan in granit 5 6. spontan in granit 6 7. spontan in granit 7 8. spontan in granit 8 9. spontan in granit 9 10. spontan in granit 10 11. spontan in granit 11 12. spontan in granit 12 13. spontan in granit 13 14. spontan in granit 15. spontan in granit 16. spontan in granit 16 17. spontan in granit 17 18. spontan in granit 18

Personnel: Matthias Bauer (bass)