AMN Reviews: Mauro Sambo & Marcello Magliocchi – …camminava solo sotto le stelle [Plus Timbre PT116]; ASA – Avoiding Sharks Attacks [PT113]

The two improvisations on …camminava solo sotto le stelle find multi-instrumentalist Mauro Sambo paired with percussionist Marcello Magiolocchi, who also brings a number of instruments to the collaboration. The tracks were recorded a year apart, the first in December 2014 and the second in the following December.

One of the instruments Magliocchi is credited with playing is sounding sculptures by Andrea Dami, which may well provide the opening moves on these two substantial performances. Magliocchi has had prior experience with Dami’s sheet metal and steel sculptures, having recorded the album Music for Sounding Sculptures in Twenty-three Movements some ten years ago, and in fact sounds from Dami’s sculptures appear to be the continuo running throughout both tracks. Sambo’s electronics, bass clarinet, and bowed double bass join Magliocchi to add a layer of largely unpitched sounds to a collective sound that plays subtly with changes of density. In addition to percussion, Magliocchi contributes electric and acoustic guitars and Sambo adds soprano saxophone, further mixing colors in the overall weave of musical texture. Still, the predominant timbres come from the various percussion instruments, which provide both background context and foreground punctuation. What’s striking and strikingly consistent about both pieces is the way Sambo and Magliocchi create a truly cooperative sound, a polyphony of timbres melding into a purposeful unity.

Recorded in November 2019, Avoiding Sharks Attacks is a compact set of four improvisations by the trio of Luca Pissavini on five-string double bass (played both “clean” and with electronic distortion), Fabrizio Bozzi Fenu on electric guitar, and Emilio Bernè sampling drums on laptop—a surprisingly effective substitute for an organic drum kit in the context of the group’s close interactions. The three play in a style that alludes, often in an oblique way, to harmonic cycles and structured themes but still manages to flow freely with the unfolding logic of the moment, whether frantic, as on the opening track, or more reflective, as in Lose Obedience.

Daniel Barbiero

AMN Reviews: Three Recent Turns at Improvisation – Mentolados Durruti, Orlando Freitas & Fabrizio Bozzi Fenu

Three new and recent releases from the Pan y Rosas and Plus Timbre netlabels offer improvised music in trio, overdub and solo formats. Each provides a unique perspective on improvisational practice, and all are worth hearing.

The Argentine trio Mentolados Durruti is made up of Luis Conde on clarinet, bass clarinet and soprano saxophone; Luis Lanes on acoustic guitar; and Carlos Vega on double bass. Their album De aća a cien años [Pan y Rosas pyr287] is a well-rounded collection of music that ranges from the pure timbre of the opening track, with its string- and fingerboard-tapping and key clicks, to the pure counterpoint of a track like Los solidarios. Lane’s pristine fingerpicking and Vegas’ refined arco sound are particular delights, and the perfect offsets for Conde’s creative uses of extended techniques. This is a group with a deft touch for polyphonic music that balances the demands of defined line against atmospheric sonority.

Home, by Brazilian bassist Orlando Freitas, is another Pan y Rosas release [pyr289]. The title of the album is certainly appropriate: recordings of the bassist’s everyday life provide the backdrop against which he layers overdubbed pizzicato improvisations throughout the course of the single 35 minute-long track. Home is built around multitracked counterpoint and variations on density, as Orlando sets out rapid flurries of notes solo and as a virtual duo and trio. His sound on upright bass has the sleek and crackling edge of an electric fretless bass.

Finally there is Fabrizio “Bozzi” Fenu’s Sant’Andrìa, on Plus Timbre [pt099]. Fenu, a guitarist originally from Sardinia now resident in Marseille, France, invents a many-colored sound world for electric guitar augmented by loops, miscellaneous electronic processing, and preparations. In spite of the sometimes abstract nature of the timbres he coaxes from his instrument, he isn’t averse to grounding his improvisations in the occasional steady rhythmic pulse. There’s much of interest here—repeated fragments of melody circling an imaginary center; insistently ringing tones coalescing into chords; microtonal detunings; the reversed decay of notes turned backwards. And beneath it all, the sharply honed edge of the electric guitar’s plain voice.

Daniel Barbiero