Tripwire is this trio's
second album. It has been recorded fourteen months after Top
Floor Encounter and consists of excerpts from a handful of concerts
and studio sessions held in Berlin and Hamburg at the end of
October and beginning of November 2001, while US drummer Jeff
Arnal visited his colleagues. The growth, the maturation of
the trio is undeniable, even though the three of them probably
didn't play together very much in the interval. No matter, this
CD-R is two full steps above the first opus. Each player has
gone a long way stripping his sound from any non-essential features.
Alto sax Lars Scherzberg gets closer to John Butcher's style,
letting silence creep in between his squeaks and finely-crafted
sprints. Bassist John Hughes seems to have taken a page from
the book of Peter Kowald. As for Arnal, his drumming shifts
from energy-driven rambles to close-listening shards of events.
The trio builds impressive levels of intensity without resorting
to volume. Each track is a cutting-edge free improv delight.
On three tracks the trio is joined by Dietrich Eichmann, a German
pianist who also runs the label Oaksmus (which released the
trio's first CD). Pianist Alberto Braida and clarinetist Giancarlo
Locatelli appear on another piece - the dialogue established
between the two reed instruments expands Scherzberg's palette.
But in the end the best moments happen when the trio is left
alone, as in the last track. These three are among the first
improvisers to integrate the experiments of Berlin reductionists
(Axel Dorner, Burkhard Beins) without turning the idea into
dogma. Highly recommended.
Couture / All Music Guide
Recorded in five different
venues in Hamburg and Berlin, the two Americans and one German
who make up the Scherzberg/Hughes/Arnal (SHA) trio show here
how their music has intensified and adapted in the 18 months
since their first CD.
Although drummer Jeff Arnal lives in Brooklyn, bassist John
Hughes in Hamburg and alto saxophonist Lars Scherzberg in Berlin,
the verdict on this fine disc of improvisations is that they
get together often enough to keep the ensemble's sound tight.
Not only, that but adding German pianist/New music composer
Dietrich Eichmann to the group on three tracks, and Italian
pianist Alberto Braida and clarinetist Giancarlo Locatelli on
one, opens up new avenues of creativity. Especially stirring
are the encounters with Eichmann, whose written music has been
performed by symphony orchestras in Lyon and Baden-Baden, and
whose Oaksmus label put out Top Floor Encounter, SHA's first
One of those Continental musicians who seems perfectly acclimatized
to both through-composed and improvised music -- he's part of
another improv trio with Scherzberg -- Eichmann betrays no outward
Europeanisms when he plays. Yet Arnal, who has recorded some
fine discs stateside with pianist Dan DeChellis, introduces
some uncharacteristic Native American-sounding beats on the
fourth track, while the saxist rolls out tiny squeaks and daubs
of high-pitched quarter notes, and the pianist leavens the entire
proceeding with glissandos.
Those Aboriginal tom-tom rhythms also make a momentary appearance
on track two, another quartet outing and, at almost 14 minutes,
the longest track on the disc. That's not the full extent of
the percussionist's conception though, as Arnal adds some undulating
cymbal touches in the middle of the tune and ends with some
bass drum bomb dropping. An exercise in progressive motion,
the instant composition includes tongue slaps, overblowing and
aviary exhibitions from the alto saxophonist, what sound like
prepared piano vamps from Eichmann, plus Hughes using his bow
to pummel the front of his strings. Finally the tune builds
up to a pitch of excitement only to expire on a single piano
Maybe it's New World energy expressed in Arnal's busy drum work
as well, but Locatelli and Braida play much harder, louder and
more jazz-like (whatever that means) here then on their duo
discs. Certainly the cacophony exhibited when all five musicians
play at the same time can't be found in the chamber improv the
Italians produce on their own. Here Braida digs into some left-handed
accents before he begins stroking the insides of the piano,
while Locatelli tries out the chalumeau register to expand his
tone, before introducing to air hisses. There's even some unison
horn work from Scherzberg and Locatelli at the end.
On their own, SHA have the skills and familiarity to work out
the tonal and rhythmic possibilities of different sounds and
with different inflections, that range from near-inaudible reed
trills up to what could be the sonority of garbage can lids
set into percussive motion. Most illustrative is track five,
which includes some of the most hushed improvisations of the
70 1/2-minute set. At the start there are resonating variations
on a single alto saxophone note held for many seconds at a time,
matched with minimal arco bass backing and later some cautious
drum rolls that sound as if they were played with the palms
rather than sticks. Before the track ends with grating parakeet-like
reed warbles, tones have been produced which can't be ascribed
to either the bass or the horn.
With expanded personnel and even more cohesiveness in presentation,
SHA's second disc is another deluxe improv seminar. It provides
renewed emphasis on the talent of the three musicians and the
adaptability of their music.
Ken Waxman / Jazz
Scherzberg/John Hugues + Guests - Tripwire - Generate records
Jeff Arnal/John Dierker/Jonathan Vincent - Spy Satellite - Generate records
actif sur les scènes new-yorkaises, le jeune percussionniste
Jeff Arnal nous fait découvrir deux opus parus sur
son label Generate Records. Le premier, Tripwire, est un
complément à un précédent album
(Top Floor Encounter) publié sous le label du pianiste
allemand Dietrich Eichmann. Constitué de prises studio
et de prises live, cet album reprend le travail effectué par
le trio un an plus tôt à Berlin et le développe
notamment au niveau de l'utilisation de l'espace sonore.
Les trois hommes ont travaillé et joué ensemble à plusieurs
reprises, et on ressent une réelle envie de construire
des climats propices à toutes les ouvertures possibles.
Cette envie de dépasser les champs connus, de décloisonner
les structures "classiques" reste le souci majeur
de cette formation. Pour cela ils s'emploient à déjouer
les pièges habituels de l'improvisation et notamment
les redites ou les culs-de-sac en refusant de s'enfermer
dans un schéma lissé. Plus de référentiel,
plus de recherche d'une esthétique "propre" et
consensuelle mais un combat pour faire du son une variable
sur laquelle il est possible de piocher les stimuli propices à faire
avancer le jeu. On a rarement l'occasion de rencontrer cela
chez de jeunes musiciens.
Le second, Spy Satellite, est un trio dans lequel on retrouve, aux côtés
du percussionniste, le tumultueux John Dierker aux saxes et Jonathan Vincent
au piano. Le jeu accorde une part plus grande à l'affirmation de chaque
personnalité. Alternance de jeu vif et plus subtil, cet enregistrement
laisse l'impression d'une totale maîtrise de la matière. Les plages
plus courtes donnent une dynamique sur laquelle les musiciens s'engouffrent
pour donner le meilleur d'eux-mêmes.