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Tuesday, July 9, 2024

Christoph Erb and Veto Records

Christoph Erb/Franz Loriot –Wabi Sabi (2023, Veto Records)

Wabi Sabi (which, to my pleasure, is on vinyl) came out very late in 2023, making a perfect candidate for 2024 best recordings… The duo of Christoph Erb on soprano saxophone and bass clarinet and Franz Loriot on viola offers the listener and uncompromising vision of modern improv through drone textures and, sometimes, energetic playing.

In all nine tracks of the album the focus of both musicians is to present and alternative (best call it theirs) way of the odd (again best call it a duo that rarely happens in jazz based musics) interaction between a wind instrument and a viola. And they definitely succeed. Their interaction is amazing, the way they use the instruments –aggressively but not saturating the listener with sheer volume- offers a breath of fresh air in free improvisation and, I must comment, this is not the first time it happens with a release from the label.

It is so attractive for the listener (especially after repeated listening) the way they move from presenting drone sounds, articulating timbres of cosmic music, up to total, free improvising that involves a lot of listening between them.

Take a listen:

Christoph Erb/Christian Weber/Emanuel Kunzi – Spazio Elle (Veto Records, 2024)

The approach on Spazio Elle (again on vinyl) is somewhat different and much closer to the “traditional” free jazz trio. The link between the two recordings is label head Christoph Erb, here on tenor and soprano saxophones. The trio also is made from Christian Weber on double bass and Emanuel Kunzi on the drums. Another link is the pop aesthetics on both albums, a playful choice that subordinates the music into something less “serious”.

But is this the truth behind the two side long tracks of Spazio Elle? Pity the listener-reviewer who is never sure if he or she understands things right, but seriousness isn’t one of the questions posed by Spazio Elle. Now that I think of it, I strongly believe that this is a question the three musicians never cared to pose.

What do they care for? Listening to both tracks they seem eager and determined to present their take on free improvisation through the prism of free jazz. If this seems like too much, it is always difficult to verbalize something you enjoy musically as much as it is to comprehend how the musicians play and interact.

The trio act and react as if they have been playing together for many years. A “free jazz trio” can be a misleading title for the music on Spazio Elle, as it is equally aggressive fire music and playful, humble non-hierarchical playing. As each track progresses the energy lever rises (talking about fire music, right?) but the flexibility of the musicians never ceases to lead them into new paths. Spazio Elle, too, is a strong candidate for the final lists of 2024.

Listen here: