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On connaît la capacité du très grand saxophoniste californien Vinny Golia à souffler sans fin en rafraîchissant son inspiration au passage d'un instrument à l'autre. Dans ce disque il en utilise treize (cls, saxs, flûtes, et taragot) pour quatorze morceaux. Le disque a été enregistré très vite, au gré des hasards d'une tournée qui a permis la rencontre. Son mixage, fait après la mort de Kowald par Golia et le preneur de son, Wayne Peet, place le contrebassiste en position d'accompagnateur et on aimerait parfois, surtout dans les premières écoutes, avoir accès aux mannettes. Pourtant le bassiste n'est jamais pris en faute et trouve à se loger avec une promptitude et une pertinence extrême dans le discours de Golia. On a alors un grand plaisir à entendre les deux musiciens improvisateurs se saisir ensemble des notes avec une créativité qui évite formules et modèles dans un style pourtant assez classique : il n'est pas toujours besoin de faire craquer les cadres. Si le disque ne me satisfait pas pleinement cela tient certainement au peu de préparation de l'enregistrement et à l'absence de Kowald lors des stades ultérieurs de production. Le contrebassiste y aurait amené sans doute une différence que Golia et Peet n'ont pu trouver sans lui.
Noël TACHET Impro Jazz


August 16, 2009 in Italian Removed

For all practical purposes, I labeled this review as a sax-bass duo, but in reality Vinny Golia plays Bb clarinet, bass clarinet, soprano, piccolo, tarogato, Ab clarinet, contralto clarinet, baritone sax, alto flute, sopranino, A clarinet, chinese flute and G flute. Kowald plays his bass throughout, with half the tracks pizzi and half arco. Both giants of free improvisation had actually never played together, met shortly when Kowald was traveling in the US, recorded this performance, and they actually never managed to even discuss what to do with the material, and then Kowald passed away. Luckily bassist JC Jones from Kadima Records asked Golia whether he had any material with bassists, and that's the how this album came to be. About the music : fourteen relative short tracks, on which both musicians play what comes to mind, yet the ease with which they find a common language is possibly the most stunning part of this album. Some pieces are abstract, some more melodic, some are abrasive, some tantric, some are intense, some hypnotic, others are calm and subdued, yet despite all the variation and the differences in mood and musical exploration, just a few scene-setting notes from one musician are sufficient to have the other enter the dialogue in the same language. The breadth of their musical baggage and the incredible scope of sounds they can get out their instruments make this possible. Two examples. On the sixth track Kowald's arco is accompanied by low monotonal tantric singing on his part, with Golia's tarogato playing a very sad and melodious line over it, and gradually they build up the momentum, the volume and the power of the piece, slowing down to a state of peace. On the twelfth track, the longest one, Kowald starts with repetitive arco phrasing, and Golia enters softly with circular breathing on his A clarinet, and when the arco moves into the higher regions with piercing sounds, the clarinet goes up too, with screaching phrases, then going down again, then up again, like two birds in full flight chasing one another, interchanging positions about who follows who, and the improvisation indeed has something of the flight of the bumble-bee in all its rapid progression. Every track has its own story, its own interaction. A rich album by two creative minds who know/knew what music is all about. Kowald and Golia have been valued players in the realms of the free for long enough to have established their musical identities, but what makes all the difference in this program is the extra-musical knowledge they bring to bear.
Golia brings a veritable arsenal of instruments whilst Kowald employs various techniques. Both of these points lend the music depth as well as the substance that can be taken for granted. As if to emphasize the importance of this, the track titles refer to the technique Kowald uses and the instrument Golia plays respectively. Thus "Arco / Soprano" is a model of how to extract the maximum out of relatively minimal resources. It's no mean achievement of Golia's that he manages to overtly evoke no-one other than himself on the straight horn. The music benefits accordingly, with both players being servants of the moment in the most positive sense.
"Arco / Contra Alto Clarinet" is shaded to a negligible extent by Anthony Braxton's use of the contrabass model of that horn, but once Golia gets the better of his initial preoccupation with the instrument's lower registers, the music takes flight. Kowald coaxes sounds out of his bass beyond the tempered note, but the very anti-developmental stance the duo takes has the effect of making the music even more than usually resonant.
On "Arco / Bass Clarinet" they prove how in thrall they are to the passing moment. Golia again proves to be his own man on an instrument which could be said to have an ambivalent place in the history of the music. Here he's at his most effective in the instrument's lower registers, while at times it seems as though Kowald is everywhere, his accommodation with the moment tempered by the demands of the partnership.
If the tension between resolution and irresolution is never resolved here, it might just be down to the fact that the musicians had so many considerations on their minds in the moment. "Arco / Sopranino" in essence is the measure of that implied agreement not to agree, but even so, Kowald's stealth seems to undermine the impression anyway. While Golia falls back upon rapidly and barely articulated notes, the bassist galumphs along at times, not so much in Golia's wake as alongside of him whilst looking out upon radically different vistas.