By Stuart Broomer
In 2018, New York-based alto saxophonist Patrick Brennan and Lisbon-based prepared guitarist Abdul Moimême recorded the duo CD Terraphonia (Creative Sources). The two had been long-acquainted but their usual orientations were significantly different, Brennan working in the free reaches of jazz, Moimême very much a free improviser. While Brennan is part of a continuum marked by Charlie Parker and Ornette Coleman, Moimême often stands between two horizontal instruments, sometimes covering them in aluminum sheets and playing them with e-bows and other devices, the results suggesting ensembles led by John Cage and Harry Partch. Together Brennan and Moimême created a kind of dream logic, their materials unalike, the results fused in a new language.
Ernesto Rodrigues, the creative and executive mastermind of Creative Sources, suggested the two record with a quartet of improvising string players, putting together a session for the day following the April 2018 duo recording. One might divide the strings into pairs: Rodrigues, playing viola here, and violinist Maria do Mar are strongly associated with free improvisation; cellist Miguel Mira and bassist Hernâni Faustino are well-known members of the Lisbon free jazz community. It’s often an artificial division, all are actively involved in Rodrigues’ numerous orchestral projects, but Mira and Faustino often provide forceful forward momentum.
The resulting music is a remarkable tapestry, in a sense stretched between the more distinct sonic personalities of Brennan and Moimême, the four string players functioning normatively, with related sounds and similar gestural vocabularies. The five individual pieces flow together almost as a suite, with Brennan sometimes adding elements of surprise. He launches the opening “O largo aberto das diafonias alertas” with cornet flutters, while the central “Nextness” has him declaiming a poem. “A que distância?” places Moimême’s sonic tumult to the fore before introducing discreet string noises, with Brennan’s alto leading a rising assembly of throbbing bass strings and whistling string harmonics.
There is often the sense of imminent subversion here, sudden mutations that carry the music both forward and elsewhere. At times it suggests the superb lyric expression of memorable saxophone and string combinations likeas Charlie Parker and Strings or Albert Ayler in Greenwich Village or just Ornette Coleman and David Izenzon, at most moments though, the group find its own rich and compound ground. As the closing whispers of “O pássaro repentino da espera” appear, one hopes Brennan, Moimême and associates finds further occasions to expand and explore the collaboration.
Listen and download from Bandcamp.
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