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Friday, July 11, 2008

NovoTono - Wanderung (Amirani Records, 2007) ****

NovoTono are two Italian master clarinet players, the brothers Adalberto and Andrea Ferrari, the former also playing soprano sax and the latter baritone sax. This beautiful record brings a combination between modern classical music, jazz, free improvisation and avant-garde. All tracks have a clear structure, with anchor points for reference to the two musicians, sometimes with rhythmic patterns played by one of them, but those are just the basis for the improvisations. Their approach is abstract yet intimate at the same time. The title, "Wanderung" is the German word for hiking or even stronger for migration, with reference to a poetic line "perfection lies in he who sees the entire world as a foreign land", (probably) meaning that you have to look at things with fresh eyes, full of wonder and surprise at what you see, full of opportunities to explore, even the familiar. And that describes the music well. There are familiar rhythms and patterns, even references to Italian folk music, but it all sounds suprising and new. Don't expect real melodies though, the most you get are sounds over rhythm and sound patterns, often with lots of space in between. Only on the two "Ship's Log" tracks does the excitement increase in some twirling abstract, almost funky line. On the longest and last track "Isles & Lives" Federico Cumar joins on trombone and Luca Serrapiglio on soprano sax, and it is also the most varied piece of the album, with some joyful dance-like tune played by the bass clarinet, once in a while backed up by the other horns, slowing down for the other clarinet to play a mournful solo built around silence, disturbed by some abstract chaotic interference of the other instruments, changing the dance-tune into something sad and plaintive, slowly taking up speed again with other reeds in unison acting in counterpoint until the trombone takes over, deep, dark and menacing, yet all ends well, with joy returned and all four musicians playing together. The Ferrari brothers clarinet playing is stunning, and their music is creative and exploratory, while still remaining intimate and close. This seems to be the hallmark of the label, and it's an approach we can only welcome.

© stef