Just about ten years after the release of his first solo recording in 2005—a self-produced solo recording from ten years before that isn’t part of the official opus—Gianni Mimmo has come out with Further Considerations, an LP of compositions and improvisations for solo soprano saxophone.
Mimmo takes best advantage of the LP’s format-by-division by devoting the A side to three independent pieces and the B side to an eleven-part suite. The A side opens with Mimmo’s concise interpretation of Steve Lacy’s Cette Fois—Lacy being the natural point of reference for an album of solo soprano saxophone. Life, dedicated to the memory of Mimmo’s friend Gilles Laheurte, also a soprano saxophonist, is improvised, but it retains the memory of structural chord changes that keep it coherent at the global level while remaining playfully unpredictable at the local level. The final track on Side A is Square as Theatre, a relatively brief piece dedicated to Italian 20th century painter Mario Sironi. Mimmo’s wistful, airy melodies jump registers and alternate with strident multiphonics, in the process turning bright timbre against itself to capture the undercurrent of melancholy and aloneness implicit in Sironi’s solid, slab-like forms and muted palette of ochres, umbers and drab olive.
Side B is given over to sections from A Number of Floating Sections for Piet Mondrian, a composition of 1986-1989 for which Mimmo created a graphic score. While Sironi’s paintings captured the volume and solidity of things—the brute facts of matter—Mondrian’s mature work instead attempted to convey eidos through a reduction of form to its basics, his grids and primary colors constituting a neo-Platonism of the perpendicular. Mimmo, too, engages basics with the suite, the relatively brief individual sections of which let him construct cohesive forms in constrained spaces. The shorter of the pieces are epigrammatic, featuring a simplicity of line in which relationships between tones are clearly set out, even through leaps of intervals and interposed pauses. A handful of overdubbed sections, with their intersecting lines, seem to lay out the equivalent in sound of Mondrian’s orthogonal frameworks.
As with all of Mimmo’s work the music here, no matter what its inspiration, is based on balance. Not only the moment-to-moment balance of register, phrasing, dynamics, and articulation, but a larger, more fundamental balance of abstraction and direct lyricism.