Léandre/Parker/Fernández/Kaučič: Jubileum Quartet

A uiš
NotTwo MW 1005-2

By Ken Waxman

Four adept improvisation arbiters from four countries assembled for a program of unadulterated improvisation at the Jazz Cerkno festival recently and A uiš is the enraptured result. The title means “and you go” in Slovenian, which sums up the mutual respect and lack of arrogance each displays towards the others’ talents.

Tenor saxophonist Evan Parker was present at the birth of the genre more than 50 years ago; French bassist Joëlle Léandre and Catalan pianist Agustí Fernández arrived a little later. All have been in fruitful partnerships with one another as has Slovenian percussionist Zlatko Kaučič, whose 40th anniversary as a musician was being celebrated. Throughout this single 45-minute improvisation the four are always in sync, yet constantly projecting individual tropes: Parker’s circular breathing expressions; Léandre’s dramatic command of pressurized twang and arco sweeps; Fernández’s judicious key positioning that encompass internal string plucks and kinetic keyboard agitation; and Kaučič’s prudent theme patterning that bolsters without bombast.

The piece’s texture unfolds with collective logic at the same time as acerbic peeps and sympathetic echoes evolve from single sound strands to multiphonic emphasis. Yet the transitions as well as focused solos and duos arrive and depart with such subtle competence that narrative flow is never disrupted. Rapturous applause at the finale demonstrates not only why the performance is another exemplar of free music but also confirms each quartet member’s immense and ingenious talents.

-for The Whole Note September 2020