Sabu Toyozumi/Mats Gustafsson

Hokusai
NoBusiness NBCD 134

Giuseppe Doronzo/Pino Basile

Aterraterr

Tora Records Tora 002

Paulina Owczarek & Peter Orins

You Never Know

Microcid 025

Liudas Mockūnas/Christian Windfeld

Pacemaker

NoBusiness NBLP 147

Creating perceptive creative music programs with only reeds and percussion calls on the realized skills of sophisticated improvisers. Younger and veteran players, the duos on these discs put together astute sessions by expanding the parameters by emphasizing varied approaches.

On Aterraterr, Italians, baritone saxophonist Giuseppe Doronzo, who has played in ensembles with Michael Moore; and percussionist Pino Basile, who was in the Afro Mediterranean Orchestra, draw on their shared Apulian heritage by dappling their nine tracks with timbres from the ney anban or Iranian bagpipe, bubbù or Apulian globular flute and cupaphon or tuned friction drum set. With a base of subterranean reed rumbles, tongue slaps and slurs plus standard kit drumming, emphasis alternates with high-pitched reed expressions and goblet drum-like hand and palm patterns. At times a bit of slide whistle-like bubbù peeping may be overdone, though supple melding of Arcadian and modern themes works for mutual benefit. “Lauro” for instance is a foot-tapping near-tarantella where light and dark reed flutters create the melody backed by percussion paradiddles and rebounds. Buzzing and echoes with tones created by drum kit lug loosening and scooped pressure from Doronzo, the dance rhythm replicates the head at the finale. Throughout the disc staccato reed bites can quickly advance to layered multiphonics or whiney flutters, while hard drum pops create enough of a connection to prevent dissected horn timbres becoming too disjointed. The lengthiest display of this strategy and its subsets occurs on “Strazzavisazz”. Tambourine-like shakes add to Basile’s hand drumming accents which complement Doronzo’s circular renal snorts and slurs. Pivoting to altissimo reed trills, staccato squeaks change the theme, mixing with dense overblowing and lighter hand drumming. Eventually the circular breathed line unites with percussion for a self-directed finale.

While Swede Mats Gustafsson plays fluteophone and flute as well as baritone saxophone during his duets – and an unaccompanied solo from each – with Japanese drum master Sabu Toyozumi on Hokusai, there’s no genre mixing just robust Free Jazz. Static air forced through the saxophone’s body tube from the first notes built up to hearty tongue slaps and expanded honks from the first notes is matched by cymbal claps and drum pops, the two evoke the narrative with equal power. Moderation is expressed as well as intensity though. So that when “Woman with a Cat”, the second track arrives, Toyozumi’s advanced claps and clangs and Gustafsson’s quacks and yelps give way to a stronger output. Consisting of reed mewling and temple-bell-like echoes from the percussionist, emotion is projected via transverse flute shifts and drum rattles, that ease down to barely-there slurs at the conclusion. A variation of these dual strategies is defined on “For Ever-Advancing Artistry”, which itself is almost the same length as both preceding duets. Continuous bass drum emphasis and cymbal color provide the backing on which the saxophonist can flutter tongue up the scale until he reverses himself with double-thick subterranean cries. Relaxing into tongue slaps and cymbal bangs, the players meld reed shrills and rim shots into a tough, but translucent connection until almost unhinged reed screams and drum rat tata tats confirms that sound impulses still remain and promise to be explored another time.

More restrained in execution, but with a similar connection from different countries is You Never Know. Five improvisations feature Krakow-based alto saxophonist Paulina Owczarek and drummer Peter Orins from Lille, both of whom have played with Satoko Fuji among many other ensembles. Affected by minimalism as well as Energy Music, at points Orins relies on bell tree shakes, miniature cymbal peals and unforced drum top patterning to define his parameters. Meanwhile some of Owczarek’s unique sound textures come from yells inside the horn’s body tube, alphorn-like projections, shrill whistling through the detached mouthpiece, or in other instances inflating wide tones by blowing into the horn itself after the mouthpiece is removed. Even the introductory “What Might Happen” begins with watery reed sucks, inert air suspension and lower-case growls, with the percussion response nerve beats and slippery objects jangling across the floor. Moving to the subsequent, extended “Oh Anything” is logical and liberating as puffs and shrills from the saxophone replace unaccented air forced through the horn creating a linear exposition that hooks up with a steady percussion pattern of bell clangs, gong resonations and drum rumbles. Eventually the dual projections coalesce into a studied narrative of percussive ruffs and rolls and undulating triple tongued reed expressions. Not unlike the other duos here, extended techniques encompassing reed doits, tongue slaps and irregular vibrations plus drum top smacks from Orins serve as interludes among the steadily hardened of the narratives. Tones expressed by deep breathed slurps and bass drum echoes eventually create an underlying exploratory airiness interspaced among the timbre thickened dual narratives.

Lithuanian Liudas Mockūnas brings the most varied collection of reeds to his duo with Dane Christian Windfeld. The percussionist, who has played with the likes of Adam Pultz Melbye, counters with a prepared drum kit, regular drums and cymbals to counter. Mockūnas, whose duo partners have ranged from Barry Guy to William Hooker, has a perfect foil to his expression on contrabass and prepared clarinet, tenor and soprano saxophones. During two almost identically timed tracks, the reedist and the percussionist swirl and buzz and smack and scratch tones at one another. Encompassing a multi-level drone, which in Mockūnas’ case includes a chalumeau register bottom, a clarion pitched middle and a screeching upper register plus Windfeld’s woody smacks and cymbal clanks, the two steady themselves into textures that descend into near silence. Interaction during “Maker”, the second track is more aggressive since metallic percussion vibrations and multiphonic reed trills predominate. The drummer’s regular beat then provides a continuum over which the reedist snorts and soars on all his reeds in turn, showcasing whistling peeps, harmonica-like sighs, hippo-like snorts and guttural growls. As Mockūnas renews his exposition with new variants in the tune’s second section, responsive drum pats fuse with the reeds as the session ends with a literal (drum) bang.

Cross national, cross-cultural and cross-instrumental timbres characterize all of these duos. Projecting sophisticated extensions and connections, each results in elevated improvisations.

—Ken Waxman

Track Listing: Aterraterr: 1. Favo 2. Albarelli 3. Lauro 4. Maggese 5. Bubbù Sapiens 6. Katsikodromos 7. Strazzavisazz 8. Matematica campestre 9. Bubbustan

Personnel: Aterraterr: Giuseppe Doronzo (baritone saxophone, ney anban and bubbù) and Pino Basile: tamburrello, cupaphon frame drum and bubbù)

Track Listing: Hokusai: 1. Sunflower 2. Woman with a Cat 3. Manga by Hokusai 4. Red View of Mount Fuji 5. For Ever-Advancing Artistry

Personnel: Hokusai: Mats Gustafsson (baritone saxophone, fluteophone and flute) and Sabu Toyozumi (drums)

Track Listing: You: 1. What Might Happen 2. How People Behave 3. Oh Anything 4. Three Rules That Live 5. In The House Next Door

Personnel: You: Paulina Owczarek (alto saxophone) and Peter Orins (drums)

Track Listing: Pacemaker: 1. Pace 2. Maker

Personnel: Pacemaker: Liudas Mockūnas (contrabass and prepared clarinet, tenor and soprano saxophones) and Christian Windfeld (prepared drum kit, drums and cymbals)