For all practical purposes, I labeled this review as a sax-bass duo, but in reality Vinny Golia plays Bb clarinet, bass clarinet, soprano, piccolo, tarogato, Ab clarinet, contralto clarinet, baritone sax, alto flute, sopranino, A clarinet, chinese flute and G flute. Kowald plays his bass throughout, with half the tracks pizzi and half arco. Both giants of free improvisation had actually never played together, met shortly when Kowald was traveling in the US, recorded this performance, and they actually never managed to even discuss what to do with the material, and then Kowald passed away. Luckily bassist JC Jones from Kadima Records asked Golia whether he had any material with bassists, and that's the how this album came to be.
About the music : fourteen relative short tracks, on which both musicians play what comes to mind, yet the ease with which they find a common language is possibly the most stunning part of this album. Some pieces are abstract, some more melodic, some are abrasive, some tantric, some are intense, some hypnotic, others are calm and subdued, yet despite all the variation and the differences in mood and musical exploration, just a few scene-setting notes from one musician are sufficient to have the other enter the dialogue in the same language. The breadth of their musical baggage and the incredible scope of sounds they can get out their instruments make this possible. Two examples. On the sixth track Kowald's arco is accompanied by low monotonal tantric singing on his part, with Golia's tarogato playing a very sad and melodious line over it, and gradually they build up the momentum, the volume and the power of the piece, slowing down to a state of peace. On the twelfth track, the longest one, Kowald starts with repetitive arco phrasing, and Golia enters softly with circular breathing on his A clarinet, and when the arco moves into the higher regions with piercing sounds, the clarinet goes up too, with screaching phrases, then going down again, then up again, like two birds in full flight chasing one another, interchanging positions about who follows who, and the improvisation indeed has something of the flight of the bumble-bee in all its rapid progression. Every track has its own story, its own interaction. A rich album by two creative minds who know/knew what music is all about.
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