AMN Reviews: Paredes/Hatwich Duo – S/T [Neuma Records]

Robert Paredes (1948-2005) was a well-rounded experimentalist who composed electroacoustic works and text scores, and as a multi-reed instrumentalist performed with the Harry Partch Ensemble and played freely improvised music as well as jazz and Middle European, Balkan, and Greek folk music. In May and August of 2000, he played a series of improvised duets with double bassist Anton Hatwich in Iowa City, where Paredes taught and Hatwich was a student. The seven performances on this well-recorded set feature Paredes on clarinet, bass clarinet, and alto saxophone. Originally self-released in a limited edition of 100 CD-Rs, the album is now available on Bandcamp. It’s music well worth retrieving from obscurity.

Although presumably freely improvised, the music is tightly organized and structurally sound, cohering into spontaneous passages of harmony, counterpoint, and complementary themes. On the evidence of his playing here, Paredes was a charismatic improviser, crafting forcefully convoluted lines from a mix of extended and conventional techniques. Hatwich’s bow work is nimble, darting in and around Paredes’ lines with a fluidity that ranges across the instrument’s full compass. When Hatwich plays in his extreme upper register, the duo sound like a pair of clarinets; when playing pizzicato, he supports Paredes with a percussive drive.

There are many recordings of improvised duets for reeds and double bass; this is among the finest of them.

Daniel Barbiero