AMN Reviews: Two From Lina Allemano

If you are into well-thought improvisational frameworks, trumpeter Lina Allemano is someone that you should know about. For close to 25 years she has been steadily active in numerous group settings and live outings. She approaches her work with curiosity, intelligence, and an eye for detail. Her music can be very experimental, but also joyful and energizing.

Allemano has two new albums coming out in April, respectively representing a yin and yang of her styles.

BLOOP – Proof (2021; Lumo Records)

On Proof, Allemano is joined by Mike Smith on live processing and effects. This duo offers up eight tracks of gritty explorations. Notably, Allemano plays and Smith manipulates her output in real-time. Smith’s effects include delay, echo, reverb, and distortion among others. Allemano can go from producing tones that are clearly trumpet-originated to sounds generated via extended techniques. These are run through Smith’s rack, which processes them to varying degrees. The results can resemble a solo trumpet, several trumpets, or electroacoustic noise. Further, there is a feedback loop at play in these pieces. Not just the literal feedback that Smith adds to Allemano’s lines, but also a full-circle of feedback in which Allemano hears what Smith is doing to her playing and adjusts her approach accordingly. All of the leads to Proof being an experimental and varying release, quite outside even by Allemano’s standards and yet still a compelling and enjoyable listen.

Lina Allemano Four – Vegetables (2021; Lumo Records)

This is the sixth album by the Lina Allemano Four, her main group as a leader. The album begins with staccato lines and start-stop rhythms. Allemano’s angular writing provides serpentine pathways through which she and her co-conspirators (Brodie West on sax, Andrew Downing on bass, and Nick Fraser on drums) come together and break apart. Indeed, the quartet synchronizes and de-synchronizes frequently even within tracks – they follow a clearly laid-out pattern until they don’t. And each veer from these paths from time to time into less well-charted territory. Of particular note are the leads of Allemano and West – more collaboration than duel, with individual themes that combine into overarching melodic structures. Downing’s bass is powerful and meandering, and Fraser is less about rhythm and more about percussion as a co-equal element. That said, the group is unafraid of incorporating an element of tunefulness. Thus, while not exactly all-out free jazz, Vegetables nods towards these influences but largely combines them with a quasi-composed approach. The result is another splendid release.

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