Saturday, November 3, 2007

Clarinet duos - two CDs to put on your search-list!

I borrowed two CD's this week with similar musical approaches, but a few years old or more, but both with a remarkable similarity in approach : a clarinet + bass or clarinet + drums duo. On both records, the music comes straight from the heart, is channeled through superb musicianship and is delivered with a clear and common musical vision between the two performers. If you come across them, get hold of them!

Jean-Marc Foltz & Bruno Chevillon - Cette Opacité (Clean Feed, 2005) ****½

Jean-Marc Foltz plays clarinet, Bruno Chevillon bass. Together they play this absolute wonderful CD of free improvisation, called "Cette Opacité", played at the Jazzdor Festival of Strasbourg in France in 2003. The two musicians play some fabulously fresh, raw, inventive and fun music. The melodies are great, the rhythms are stunning, the interplay is remarkable. Foltz's playing at times reminds me of Ned Rothenberg, and true, both are experts in the circular breathing technique, but here Chevillon's bass gives it a more haunting and hypnotic quality. Yet there is joy too, and plenty of it, and suprise, and melancholy moments too. Apart from their stunning musicianship, their sense of space and silence is excellent as well. As said, a wonderful album.

Available for download from

Andrea Centazzo & Gianluigi Trovesi - Shock!! (Ictus, 1984 - re-issued 1995) *****

Andrea Centazzo is this Italian drummer and composer who never shied away from taking musical risks and financial risks in getting his music known. He was the founder of the by now defunct Italian Ictus label. On this disk he is accompanied by Gianluigi Trovesi, the Italian master of the bass clarinet, who also plays piccolo clarinet, alto and soprano saxophone on this record. Trovesi is a master of many styles, and he feels as comfortable in the free jazz idiom as in modern jazz, as in his romantic excursions into Italian traditional music. This album is an absolute joy from beginning to end, because both musicians go as broad as they can, spilling the whole bag of styles and melodies and rhythms they have accumulated over the years, but doing that in a most inventive, entertaining and creative manner. This is free music, and many of the sounds, and sound-bursts and emotional discharges will be new to the ear, but yet also accessible. Great!

This disk was originally recorded in January 1984 in Bologna, Italy in Centazzo's studio. Part of the income from the re-issue will go the victims of the Bosnian war.

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