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Thursday, September 6, 2018

Marco Colonna, Agustí Fernández & Zlatko Kaučič - Agrakal (Not Two, 2018) ****½

By Eyal Hareuveni

The three Mediterranean musicians - Italian clarinet and baritone sax player Marco Colonna, Catalan pianist Agustí Fernández, and Slovenian drummer-percussionist Zlatko Kaučič, have played with each other before, but their performance at the Italian Novara Jazz Festival on December 2017 was their first ever as a trio. Colonna has recorded two albums with Fernández - Desmadre (Fonterossa Records, 2014) and the self-released, live Birth of Shapes (2016). Fernández also recorded duets with Kaučič, Sonic Poetry (Not Two, 2014), and played with him in a trio with Evan Parker. Colonna recorded with Kaučič and Italian bass player Giovanni Maier the self-released Impressioni Astratte (2016).

The titles of their albums together offer an insight for their shared mode of operation. All three musicians are masters of the art of free-improvisation and all have developed a highly personal and resourceful language. AGRAKAL invites all to experience this unique art of free-improvisation “where even voices have roots and take on color.” Colonna, Fernández and Kaučič don’t spend time on unnecessary introductions and the opening piece, the 22-minutes of “Waves of Perceptions” already demonstrate how this trio keep constructing and deconstructing, shifting and shaping immediate and urgent textures, without losing the focus or tension. The trio manages to form a new language where the extended breathing techniques of Colonna resonates organically with the inventive work of Fernández on the piano strings and the delicate cymbal work of Kaučič. The trio covers an impressive spectrum of moods, colors, rhythmic patterns and sounds, from the refined chamber interplay through the quiet and abstract to the tough and stormy.

The following pieces are shorter, but each one suggests a distinct improvisation strategy and all together the rich and nuanced new language of this trio. “Drops” deepens the dense, uncompromising and conflictual interplay explored on “Waves of Perceptions”. “Cellular” changes the dark and intense atmosphere with a playful game of inventive rhythmic patterns, where all the three musicians offer their own unconventional rhythmic angle. “From The Ground To The Sky” refuses stubbornly to settle on any course, pulse or clear structure and leads directly to “Textures of Nowhere”, that actually adopts a coherent texture, physical but also a lyrical and emotional one. This performance is concluded with another playful piece, the short “Coming Back” that shifts quickly from a sparse improvisation to a folk theme.

Hope that AGRAKAL is only the first document of this great trio.