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Monday, March 9, 2020

Anastasios Savvopoulos’ OUXPO – Deterritorialiazation (edition frifofma, 2019) ****½

By Fotis Nikolakopoulos

Improvisation, by its very nature, defies expectations and allows no preconceived ideas. At least it should be like that. Unfortunately mannerism is not something new. The reviewer finds himself or she in the awkward position -same for all improvisational recordings- to, sometimes, demystify the music, the sounds and the intentions. This is probably the biggest contradiction of all here: instead of just enjoying this wonderful recording, I have to describe it, label it maybe, and most certainly try to adjust the way it transmits freedom to my unsophisticated words.

The quintet of OUXPO consists of Anastasios Savvopoulos on electric guitar, Brad Henkel on the trumpet, Philipp Gropper on tenor sax, Felix Henkelhausen on double bass and Dre Hocevar on drums. Two half an hour tracks consist the bulk of Deterritorialization. Lasting a whole one hour, this recording gives enough room from every individual voice to be heard, while the core of the quintet’s thinking is an act and response collective improvisation. It was a big surprise for me to realize that the five of them met, musically, for the first time on this recording.

All of them stay, at least for most of the 60 minutes of it, energetic and quite mobile. At some points I got the feeling that different duos or trios, while playing all together, were formed. Such an intention made clear to me the different levels of interaction, non-linearity and understanding of each other. I was impressed.

The first track is a constant flow of ideas, trumpet phrases and guitar notes while the drums and bass are the backbone –and a solid one indeed- of it. While on the second track their approach is more aggressive, with the plucking of the bass and small percussion attacks coming on the forefront of the recording. This time Savvopoulos’s guitar is the instrument that mediates between silence and melody, totally attentive to everybody else’s moves. A fine recording and a big pleasant surprise as well.