RT 9339 (2010)
seek it not
All music improvised
Recorded live at the LOFT (Cologne, Germany)
Five facts about this recording:
1. Initially a sax-tuba-piano gig was planned. In a truly improvised
fashion, the group was extended to a quartet at the last moment, as
Roger Turner happened to be in town and agreed to join. Helen Bledsoe
sat in for the second set.
2. The recording captures the first live appearance of Alexey Lapin
outside of his home country, Russia.
3. The continuity of the music (sequence of the pieces) has been
preserved on the recording, and in general very little has been cut.
4. All the pieces have been freely improvised except (2) which is
an improvisation based on a melody composed by Alexey Lapin.
5. No animals have been harmed.
Downtown Music Gallery - Bruce Lee Gallanter
Featuring Helen Bledsoe on flute, Matthias Schubert on tenor sax, Alexey Lapin on piano, Melvyn Poore on tuba & euphonium and Roger Turner on percussion. This session was recorded in concert at The Loft in Cologne in June of 2009 and it captures the first live appearance of Russian pianist Alexey Lapin outside of his home country. No doubt you recognize a few of these names from previous recordings: the ubiquitous British drummer, Roger Turner has worked with Phil Minton, Steve Beresford & Konk Pack. Tuba player Melvyn Poore has a solo disc on Random Acoustics, has worked with Frank Gratkowski and is a member of the European Tuba Quartet (on FMP). Tenor saxman Matthias Schubert & flutist Helen Bledsoe have also played with Gratkowski, plus Schubert has recorded with Scott Fields, Carl Ludwig Hubsch & has a fine quartet disc out on Red Toucan.
This is strong, long improv session. Roger Turner, who I caught twice last month (May, 2010) with Konk Pack is one of the most distinctive percussionists I've heard & seen. He comes from the John Stevens school of selecting just the right amount of subtly, playfulness or explosiveness. Whether rubbing or scraping cymbals or other pieces of metal or erupting is short bursts his playing is at the center of this spirited quartet or quintet (last two tracks). The interplay between the piano, tuba and tenor sax is consistently focused and ever-evolving. "Can't Catch the Name" begins with somber, dreamy piano, tenor sax, tuba and skeletal cymbals. Both Matthias & Melvyn have thoughtful, warm tones on their tenor sax & tuba, eventually weaving their way around the boisterous piano & drums as the quartet ascends and erupts. The way these pieces develop seems pretty organic, flowing naturally like the wind through the trees or a current in the ocean. Helen Bledsoe is added on the last two tracks and she adds some unique flute playing to the already inspired crew. Things calm down for much of this part so that her flute can be heard interweaving superbly with the rest of this amazing quintet. Another inspired session from the fine folks at Red Toucan.
Downtown Music Gallery
Free Jazz - Stef Gijssels
Music should speak for itself. That is in short the philosophy of Russian pianist Alexey Lapin.
This performance at The Loft in Cologne, Germany, is the first time in his life he performed outside of Russia. Originally, Lapin was going to perform with Melvyn Poore on tuba and euphonium, and Matthias Schubert on tenor sax. Yet drummer Roger Turner happened to be around so he joined the improvisation. Flautist Helen Bledsoe joined for the second set, and hence only appears on the last two tracks.
And the music does speak for itself, very much like so many of the releases on Red Toucan, the music has an incredibly organic quality, with notes and textures growing out of what just preceeds, without intention of going anywhere, without predetermined plan, yet expanding with the life juices it sucks up around itself, feeding on previous notes, living off the energy of the other, sometimes giving space to other outgrowths, sometimes pushing them away, moving with the environment while being part of it, floating on the breeze or creating their own storms.
The great quality of this band is their incredible openness and discipline in creating these compelling soundscapes that follow their own logic, sounding flawlessly harmonious even without identifiable patterns. On the longest piece, "Little Ways To Perceive The Invisible", the little notes played by the various band members weave a tapestry around a backdrop of silence - and there are moments when you barely hear anything - sometimes sounding like animals in a jungle, at other times like faraway thunder, yet it all flows and moves forward, relentlessly, often hypnotically.
Other pieces have more moments when the volume rises, and sometimes jazz is to be heard, but musical categories sound outdated in this context. Listen how, on the last track, the piano and tuba suddenly fall into the same haunting forward-moving eery unison phrase as if they are trees suddenly pushed sideways in the upcoming wind, without possibility to escape, with Bledsoe playing a weird solo over it, like an intimated bird in a wild flight. It is music, full stop.
All five tracks have this sense of immediacy and deep presence which are hard to describe. The overall effect is really powerful without being intrusive or noisy. The only thing you can do is try to be part of it. Close your eyes and join them on their exceptional musical journey.
It doesn't exist if you don't listen.
All About Jazz - Jerry D'Souza
Pianist Alexey Lapin, tenor saxophonist Matthias Schubert and tubaist Melvyn Poore planned a trio date at Cologne, Germany's The Loft, on June 28, 2009. With percussionist Roger Turner in town, the trio became a quartet, and then flautist Helen Bledsoe sat in for a second set of two tunes. The original concept may have changed, but the direction the evening took did not. All of the music was improvised, except for "Can't Catch the Name," which took flight from a melody written by Lapin.
All five players are improvisers, ready to turn an idea into a germane presence in an instant. A wisp, a fragment, a note floating hazily in the air is harnessed and turned into vital conversation. Time is controlled by space as significantly as it is a stream of interaction.
Lapin, playing live outside his native Russia for the first time, sets up "Per Aspera," a line of protracted notes turning into a well of melody complemented, at first, by Turner, before Schubert and Poore come in. What transpires is an eddying whirlpool of sound, the instruments comingling, even as they voice their individuality. Strangled squiggles of saxophone weave through the piano notes before straightening into a melodic progression, with euphonium providing a backdrop of smooth linearity. The communication is symbiotic.
Bledsoe gets right into the feel, opening the path to "Little Ways to Perceive the Invisible," a roiling combustion that textures the fabric. The undercurrent surges, the instruments cross, cutting and igniting a marvelous storm of fertile ideas. Throbbing patterns are stimulated by a constant sense of urgency, and while the high kicks in and locks; the pattern never stays the same. The chiming piano chords, percussion's tinkling, horns' crying and flute's airiness are also tangents in the frame.
All the music reverberates to capture the imagination.
All About Jazz - Nic Jones
If free improvisation is ever in danger of becoming as stylized and hidebound by convention as the post-bop continuum, then it won't be the responsibility of the musicians featured on this release. Despite the almost half-century of free improvisation on record, examples such as Seek It Not With Your Eyes serve to emphasize how the methodology is still fresh and still a haven for the unexpected; that elusive sound of surprise is evident here in abundance.
It goes without saying that all the musicians present are well-versed in the language. The very indeterminacy of the music's progress on the opening "Per Aspera" serves notice of it, as if it were needed, with Matthias Schubert showing how something startling can be coaxed out of that quintessential instrument: the tenor sax. It would be damning his work with faint praise to say that he deals in lines so alert to the passing moment, but there's substance in the idea that he hews closest to the recognizable continuity of all the players. His is the voice that holds attention in a way that probably wasn't obvious to the audience, in front of which this music was performed.
The quartet is joined by flautist Helen Bledsoe on the lengthy "Little Ways To Perceive The Invisible," where the very indeterminacy of the music's progress is the only thing that's guaranteed. Melvyn Poore, elsewhere never shy of utilizing the guttural qualities of his instruments (tuba and euphonium), is a model of restraint, even though the terminology seems inadequate for such rarefied music. Bledsoe's timbre alludes to strands of world music, but is the collective nub of the piece that such references are useful merely as points of reference. Schubert is, by turns, fractious and disputatious, but without ruffling the music's surface. In proceeding by stealth, the music seems allusive and timeless; almost recognized outside of the continuum.
On the relatively brief "Blur / Fanfare For The Rational Man" pianist Alexey Lapin comes as close to convention as he ever does, skirting around territory mapped out by Cecil Taylor and Alexander Von Schlippenbach, even while his attack is more reflective and, perhaps, less inclined to feed off of its own momentum. Schubert's sonority is a law unto itself, even while he lays down a minimalist manifesto in the midst of Roger Turner's multi-hued percussion shading. The resulting energy is muted, even as it's marked by an underlying anxiety, the primacy of the moment manifesting itself in veiled ways.