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Saturday, May 28, 2016

Guido Mazzon, Marta Sacchi, Stefano Giust - Neu Musik Projekt (Setola Di Maiale, 2015) ****

By Nicola Negri

Guido Mazzon – trumpet, flugelhorn, piano, synth, harmonica, toys, music box, crackle box, voice
Marta Sacchi – clarinets, melodica, music box, flute, toys, piano, laptop, bells, voice
Stefano Giust – drums, percussions

Guido Mazzon is one of the main protagonists of Italian free jazz since the Seventies, with adventurous groups like Gruppo Contemporaneo and Italian Instabile Orchestra and important collaborations – with Lester Bowie, Andrew Cyrille, Anthony Braxton, Cecil Taylor to name a few – and he’s still very active in experimental music today. Stefano Giust is from a younger generation that helped shape the free improvisation scene in Italy from the ’90s onward, and he’s also an important promoter of these musics with his record label Setola di Maiale, while Marta Sacchi is a young clarinet player with a classical background and experiences in various musical styles and theatre performance.

Neu Musik Projekt, their first record together, opens with the sound of bells, soon joined by a trumpet drone and a slow melody from the clarinet, suggesting a filmic o theatrical dimension that develops throughout the album in a wide array of musical situations. The list of instruments used by the musicians is long, but every track is carefully built to make the best use of the chosen instrumentation, even if some of the most impressive tracks of the album, like Per altre vie or Curcuma’s Days, are those in which the core combo of trumpet, clarinet and percussions is used. In these pieces the musicians work on their respective strengths: Mazzon on trumpet has a confident voice and an agile phrasing, searching for new sounds and moods with an expert use of mutes. Sacchi’s clarinet perfectly complements him with a beautifully controlled tone and elegant melodic inventions, while Giust is constantly experimenting with new sounds, suggesting rhythm more than stating it, or negating it altogether.

The album explores different musical styles and brilliantly blends them into a cohesive whole, from the peculiar mix of contemporary composition, spoken word interludes and melodic inventions of But Do You Remember?, to the South American atmospheres of Santiago, with the rolling drums of Giust supporting the multi thematic lines woven by Sacchi and Mazzon. Other tracks veer to contemporary territories, like the Short Pieces, three musical miniatures that revolve around contrasting instrumental relations; or into more abstract atmospheres, like Già, where multiple instruments are used by Mazzon and Sacchi, creating an ever-changing soundscape over the relentless percussion work of Giust, with spoken snippets giving continuity to the performance.

The range of styles and moods explored in this record is surprising, going well beyond the jazz or improv labels, revealing a complex, sometimes puzzling but always fascinating musical world, explored with humor and passion.