Between Falling and Walking

The Italian duo of Alberto Braida (piano) and Giancarlo Nino Locatelli (clarinet) have been playing together for about 25 years, first surfacing on record in 1999 on an album called 19 Calefazioni. I think they both have at least one foot planted in jazz and improvisation camps, but today’s record From Here To There (WE INSIST! RECORDS CDWEIN113) contains nine new compositions, five written by the pianist and the other four by the woodwind section. Extremely melodic and accessible music they create, and poise / deliberation guide their every move; neither of the pair seem especially interested in “wild” free blowing. With their studied use of unusual chords and unexpected intervals, they come close (to me) to emulating certain early compositions of Kurt Weill, and the combination of the two instruments, together with that vaguely mysterious tone we often get from a good woodwind, puts one in mind of when John Greaves and Tim Hodgkinson played together, e.g. on the Desperate Straights album. We are invited to see a comparison between their playing and the cartoon art of Gianni Pacinotti, who speaks of things that “always happen that are beyond my control” as he draws, the very action of creation bringing about a moment of productiveness that was quite unexpected. Available on vinyl and CD. (04/05/2021)

From same label, we have Tombé De La Voûte (WE INSIST! RECORDS CDWEIN14), on which French improvising saxophonist Michel Doneda teams up with Italian players Andrea Grossi (double bass) and Filippo Monico (drums), for a 2019 date recorded in the drummer’s basement. They go by the collective name of KORR and this release documents the first time they met. We don’t seem to have heard from Doneda in these pages since 2015’s Aplomb record, which he made with the percussionist Lê Quan Ninh, and reminds us that he seems to thrive best in small groups and intimate settings. Unlike the Italian piano-woodwind set above, this music is far from melodic, and one of the main points of interest of the musicians is in the blending of unusual, stark, and clipped sounds, each instrument audible separated and occupying its own line of enquiry. They’re able to do this while turning the process into a rich musical conversation, which at times gets quite heated and agitated. The CD includes an ambitious 19:34 minute piece called ‘f.t.f.’, divided into seven index points, and containing many instances of exciting “sizzle” interaction along with the more world-weary segments, where the soprano sax issues a plaintive keen alongside melancholic bowed-bass murmurs. Part of this label’s “In Viaggio” series. (04/05/2021)

Brighton musician Dan Powell may be known to you as an improviser who performs as one half of The Static Memories and also occasionally with Paul Khimasia Morgan, but he’s here today with a slightly unusual field recording / musique concrète assemblage called Four Walks At Old Chapel (CRONICA 170-2021). He gathered field recordings at this Welsh location, as well as collecting objects from around the countryside to use as instruments in impromptu performances. Back in Brighton, he treated and collaged his tapes into these new arrangements, producing engaging and unexpected results. There are two added dimensions that give this cassette extra resonance; one of them is a personal / family connection, as he’s been taking his family on holiday to Old Chapel for a number of years, and indeed family members assisted with the gathering and playing of objects “brushing, scraping and rubbing them to produce a wide range of intimate sounds”, which they did in a straw hut. They even found, and incorporated, an old piano which had been left outside to moulder away. The second dimension is to do with Old Chapel Farm itself; it’s a collective experiment in social living, offering a new take on those self-sufficiency theories that were so popular among West Coast hippies around 1969, and shows the value of “living close to the land” and developing a sustainable way of life. Dan Powell aimed to create a personal audio statement reflecting and embodying all this, and has succeeded; it’s also gorgeous to listen to, and is much more intimate and teeming with life than many formal / academic experiments in the field of electro-acoustic composition. (04/05/2021)