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Sunday, January 11, 2009

Ernst Ludwig Petrowsky & Michael Griener - The Salmon (Intakt, 2008) ****

Two new reviews of the sax-drums duo format. Two albums which are close in their improvised approach and musical freedom, one sounding very European and the other very American, although some tracks might be exchanged from one to the other, and people with untrained ears will probably not be able to tell the difference.

Ernst Ludwig Petrowsky & Michael Griener - The Salmon (Intakt, 2008) ****

The Salmon consists of 11 pieces of great interplay between saxophonist Ernst-Ludwig "Luten" Petrowsky and drummer Michael Griener. The album starts in the way you would love such an album to start, right into the core of things, straight to the essence, no holds barred. Petrowsky is fierce, energetic and sensitive too. Griener is fierce, energetic and sensitive. This sensitivity is the essence of the second track, called "The Salmon 2" (no creativity in the titles), on which Petrowsky plays long deep-toned passages, with Griener accentuating subtly. Petrowsky almost comes to a theme, yet rapidly kills it, for fear of creating a melodic pattern, keeping freedom and openness, without falling into dissonance or empty squeeks and squeals. This is music that breathes, that is direct, soulful and wild, yet both men have something to tell. I like the format for that reason, as it often works.

Andrew Lamb & Warren Smith - The Dogon Duo (Engine, 2005) ****

I recently downloaded this album from iTunes, although it was released some years ago. Like Petrowsky, Andrew Lamb is also an autodidact, who got formal training later on. He is accompanied by Warren Smith, who, like Griener, is a master of minor subtleties and a deep soulful approach. The Dogon are an African tribe in West Africa, mostly in Mali and Niger. With that as a context it's not surprising that African rhythms and melodies dominate the music, but then in the free-est of ways. The first piece starts with odd, pounding polyrhythmics by Smith and a soaring sax, sounding like a mixture of Kalaparush McIntyre and Dewey Redman, warm, free, rhythmic and lyrical. The role of Smith in setting the scene is crucial on many tracks, as on the title piece. There is quite some variation, with Lamb switching to flute or mismar once in while, but also in the musical approaches. There are some slow spiritual pieces ("Lake Tanganyka" with Lamb blowing on bottles), alternated with wild tribal dance music, and wild spiritual pieces ("Call Of The Spirits"). Again, I like this format. And this CD also delivers the goods.

Listen and download from iTunes.

© stef