By Colin Green
I’ve been taken with Poland’s For Tune label of late, spending many productive hours (though far from profitable) sampling its catalogue on Bandcamp and discovering a wealth of highly rewarding music from Poland’s vibrant jazz scene, and elsewhere. The label’s motto is “Opus Aetrenatum” (Work Everlasting), a bold and unconfirmable claim, but it’s released some fine albums which will keep me going for a while at least. As downloads, they’re reasonably priced at $8.40 apiece, even for a double album. Standouts so far have been the Piotr Damasiewicz Project’s Imprographic 1, the Vehemence Quartet’s Anomalia (including a stunning version of Wayne Shorter’s ‘Witch Hunt’) and PeGaPoFo’s Świeżość – all warmly recommended.
Collective Four is a cracker. The quartet of Sabir Mateen (alto & tenor saxophones, flute, clarinets), Conny Bauer (trombone), Mark Tokar (double bass) and Klaus Kugel (drums) undertook a six-date tour of Ukraine and Poland in December 2015. This is the performance from Lublin, the last date of the tour.
Like Fred Anderson and Kidd Jordan, Mateen’s playing is imbued with the blues – “Blues is in your heart and your soul” he intones at the beginning of ‘Universal Sounz’. He put in sterling service with trombonist Steve Swell’s Slammin’ the Infinite band (as did Kugel) and achieves here a similar combination of sinewy warmth and agility with the versatile Bauer, ebullient and melancholic by turns, his tailgating trombone meshing with Mateen’s liquid stream of notes to produce swirling currents. On the opening title track, the rhythm section are turbulent, without being noisy, providing a cushion for the frequent changes of pace and mood: surging and exultant shifting to tender and intimate. There are no real tunes, yet there’s a feel for melodic phrasing and exchange, a sort of rhyming which gives a mazy logic to the quartet’s thinking.
There are also individual moments to be savoured – the throaty drone of Bauer’s circular breathing combined with arco bass, set off with flecks of cymbal spray; a fruity combination of trombone slides and blats with Mateen’s unfurling clarinet line; and at the climax of ‘Universal Sounz’, Mateen’s pleading lament on tenor, fighting to be heard over a cascade of drums, growling bass and tart trombone.
‘Collective Movements’ is the last number on the tour’s final date and after an airy introduction on flute and trombone, they go for it. Gradually building in intensity with Bauer ratcheting up the tension on a repeated riff, the music swells to a thrilling crescendo, glorious and life-affirming.
The album’s available on CD or as a download. Don’t pass on this one.
From the first date of the tour in Luzk: