Saturday, July 16, 2022

Martin Küchen, Agusti Fernandez & Zlatko Kaucic - The Steps That Resonate (Not Two Records, 2022)

By Fotis Nikolakopoulos

If you are not familiar with Zlatko Kaucic’s work, even though he is prolific and, deservedly, he is often presented on this site, you should go back in 2011 and listen to Round About One O’ Clock (again on Not Two Records), his duo with Evan Parker. Parker there is on top form and Kaucic is equally brilliant. Not an easy task indeed. Having said that, let’s get back to the present and to The Steps that Resonate, a free jazz come improv trio that kicks ass.

Recorded in another periphery of free improv, the BCMF Festival in Slovenia, except from Kaucic on drums and objects, you will enjoy Marin Küchen (by the way do check out his sublime 2021 duo on Clean Feed with Slovakian percussionist Michaela Antalova) on soprano and sopranino saxes plus pianist -always vocal about what’s going on in this world- Agusti Fernandez. All three of them are highly skilled musicians totally committed to the ethos of improvisation, as you already know by now.

The cd is comprised by two tracks named after the title as parts one and two, with part one being the core of the recording. This is a stellar performance, one of those that if you are lucky enough to attend, resonate inside you for quite a long time. The path followed by the three is the usual of collective improvisation. Using the word usual is, though, both an understatement and a euphemism.

There’s nothing usual in their egoless - sometimes aggressive, other times subtle - playing. In fact the only “usual” connection you will find is that this cd follows the steps of any great improvisational recording. Their playing is non-linear and they don’t seem to be willing to know exactly where they are going. Fernandez is very aggressive on the keyboard of the piano, hitting notes as if he is really angry. Probably his most aggressive performance I’ve heard. Kuchen seems to be going back and forth between a totally energetic approach and a more subtle playing. Kaucic is the centripetal force that keeps the centrifugal attitudes of the other two together. But do not get me wrong, both Küchen and Fernandez dissolve into a path of their own only to reach a point of playing together again. They are not soloists but, different voices on a parallel, linear road.

This cd is too good to be missed and another strong candidate for 2022 best of. I’m quite lucky with what I review lately.


joe.po said...

Michael = Michaela Antalová ;)

Stef said...

@joe.po - thanks. Typo rectified.

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