Syria is the second release by A-Septic, the tenor saxophone-piano duo of Piedmontese musicians Stefano Ferrian and Simone Quatrana. Ferrian, from Novara, is a multi-instrumentalist who in addition to tenor saxophone plays guitar and Chapman Stick; the Milanese Quatrana studied piano with Franco d’Andrea after an initial period of self-instruction. Together, they improvise a kind of music they describe as “instant composing”—which certainly isn’t a bad description of the music here, all of which exhibits a disciplined sense of structure and interplay.
Overall, the mood of the album is reflective—reflective but ultimately passionate. Ferrian and Quatrana play with rubato rhythms and rising and falling dynamics measured by the length of an emotional arc. Quatrana’s piano keeps the music harmonically centered with dark chords that often recall Mussorgsky—particularly on Neve Rossa, an engaging solo performance. Ferrian plays with a sense of melody that fits tightly over whatever harmonic framework he finds himself within. The album is dedicated to Syria, a country for whose sufferings the two tracks titled Sūriyā provide a heartfelt elegy.