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Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Vlady Bystrov, Vyacheslav Guyvoronsky - Annäherungen (Fancymusic, 2016) ****

The duo setting in jazz and improvised music has a long tradition, and is often especially valuable for the possibilities it offers – an intimate dialogue where ideas can be easily traded, where any digression has the power to completely reconfigure the musical development on the spot. Of all the possible instrumental combinations, however, the pairing of trumpet and woodwinds is one of the rarest. Maybe is too risky, not only for the obvious absence of a strong harmonic dimension, but also because in less capable hands it tends to set on predictable, and boring, patterns – usually with the musicians alternating as rhythmic accompanists to each other’s melodic excursions.

Bystrov and Guyvoronsky are skilled improvisers, veterans of Russia’s new jazz scene, but they also have strong connections to classical music, evident in the chamber-like approach to their improvisations. The combination of technical facility and improvisational creativity allows them to take on the duo setting with a relaxed attitude, calibrating their interventions in an effective dialogue enriched by unusual melodic sensibilities and a strong sense of structure. Annäherungen consists of a single track, roughly fifty minutes in length, organized in different sections that start with simple musical gestures, gradually increasing in complexity, finally reaching a musical climax that promptly leaves space to the next development. This dynamic elasticity, where idiomatic concreteness and unorthodox techniques are equally important, creates an engaging listening experience. All the usual suspects are still present – the exchange of melodic ideas, the harmonic framings, the rhythmic support – but everything is approached with the right balance of looseness and restraint, letting the music evolve in spontaneous configurations, where half-valve notes on the trumpet leave space to imposing staccato declamations, where the dark textures of the alto clarinet naturally flow into the lyrical flourishes of the alto sax.

Annäherungen is a fresh take on a seldom explored group setting, where the language of jazz is just the starting point for a charming, unpredictable musical encounter, unfolding before our ears with deceptive simplicity.

Vlady Bystrov: alto and soprano saxophone, alto clarinet.
Vyacheslav Guyvoronsky: trumpet, whistle