Brian Groder and Tonino Miano: FluiDensity [Impressus Records]
FluiDensity finds Italian-born pianist Tonino Miano in the congenial company of New York trumpeter Brian Groder. This isn’t Miano’s first piano/trumpet duet; 2009’s Curvature of Pace found him collaborating with trumpeter Mirio Cosottini. While the earlier release explored textural improvisation and extended technique, FluiDensity remains more within the realm of conventional sound creation, with a focus on complex phrasing and an expansive tonality. Its harmonic vocabulary is drawn equally from recent art music and advanced jazz.
The CD opens energetically with Optika, a contrapuntal improvisation in which Groder introduces a descending semitone motif that provides the backbone of the piece. Depth of Field takes a different tack, with cascading piano contrasting with slow, long notes from the trumpet, and ensemble passages broken up by solo intervals for both Groder and Miano. The complex Phase Shift opens with a subdued and subtle call-and-response before Miano’s ever-mutating support shifts the frame around Groder’s trumpet, allowing it to be heard from different harmonic, and hence emotional, perspectives. Wiser Counter Clock is a minor key waltz that changes to a two-beat pulse in sometimes radically different tempi, while the set closes with the lovely Pas de Deux, a reflective piece in which Miano seems to allude indirectly to Debussy.
Throughout the disc Groder’s trumpet is fluid and lyrical, with a rounded, singing tone. Miano’s sound can be finely splintered as it explores the outer edges of atonal clusters. But it can also verge on a Monkish bop at times, especially on a piece like Inclination, with its half-step movement and exuberantly fractured swing.
Overall, this is a fine and cohesive collection of duets.