Leimgruber/Willers/Curran/Spera

Rome-ing
Leo Records CD LR 872

By Ken Waxman

Not a formal suite, but anything but formless jamming, the four interlocking improvisations that make up Rome-ing confirm creative unity among sophisticated musicians. Doyen of the quartet is American composer Alvin Curran, long a Rome resident, on piano and sampler. His associates are Swiss soprano/tenor saxophonist Urs Leimgruber, German guitarist Andreas Willers and Italian drummer Fabrizio Spera

Although pioneered in the 1960s by Curran in MEV, his samples and Willers’s electronics are used sparingly. There are vague suggestions of a muezzin’s adhan sharing space with accelerating reed whistles and oud-like strums on “Part III”, while a sampled lyric soprano voice warbles intermittently throughout the disc often ornamenting the narrative when pressurized licks from anyone become too harsh.

Other than that the creation unfolds logically with trilling reed split tone and tremolo keyboard runs defining the exposition, backed by twangs, buzzes and shakes from the guitarist and drummer. The nearly hour-long improvisation slows and calms at the end following a final bluesy detour from a horizontal saxophone line. Earlier sonic deviations and dissections make room for logical asides such as repeated tremolo patterns and swift glissandi from Curran; Leimgruber’s passages circular breathed to display strident whistles or Bronx cheer-like tongue stops; Willers’ strums and flanges; and Spera’s unforced clanks and clip clops. Narrowed when needed or expansive elsewhere, the ongoing suite sequences expose just enough unexpected motifs and timbral insertions to make the program consistently fascinating.

-for The Whole Note October 2020