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Friday, October 25, 2019

Simon Barker & Scott Tinkler - Interweave (Kimnara, 2019) ****½

By Stef

Eleven years ago, Australian artists Simon Barker on drums and Scott Tinkler on trumpet released "Lost Thoughts", an album that I really enjoyed. In the years in between, both musicians kept performing together and releasing albums in various ensembles, frequently also in the company of pianist Mark Hannaford.

It is good to have a duo album again. Both musicians are eclectic players, using elements from jazz, classical, avant-garde, carnatic and other Asian music. They know each other very well, and you can hear that. The interplay is strong, intense and with moments in which each of them takes a step back to let the other musician play a solo piece. And it must be said, the instrumental mastership of both musicians is not only stellar, the way they interact is even stronger.

Barker is a professor at the Sydney Conservartorium of Music, and has written about rhythmic and polyrhythmic traditions of various cultures, which can be heard in his playing, which is unusual and highly inventive. Tinkler's tone has at times a purity of sound as in the best classical trumpet tradition, but with the intensive freedom that is expected from this more adventurous genre. There are moments of such technical complexity, ferocious power and breathing control that the emphatic listener is guaranteed to be out of breath too.

Their combined music is expansive, jubilant, exuberant even at times, despite the limits of the small ensemble. There is an inherent joy in their interplay, a need to sing and dance that is uncanny, with the energy to keep things moving forward. Even in the calmer moments, the power of their attack does not diminish. In contrast to many bands, they have no obvious interest in extended techniques or  timbral explorations, yet they dig deep into the original - intended - sound of their instruments and take this a level higher.

Frequent readers will know that I am a fan of the trumpet-percussion duo, and this one is very high on my list. You don't need to be a trumpeter or a drummer to fully appreciate what's happening here. Despite the technical brilliance and subtle interplay, the format is one of pure simplicity, of the ancient coupling of percussion and singing, of fresh authenticity and direct expressiveness.


Listen and download from Bandcamp.