Pianist Kleeb and trombonist Dahinden have appeared on numerous recordings released under the Hat umbrella over the past decades, generally performing works by contemporary composers some of which might have involved degree of improvisation. In 2016, they recorded an improvised duo session, Stones, for hatOLOGY. Here, they’re joined by percussionist Alexandre Babel in a set of ten improvised performances.
As is often the case, depending on where the listener is coming from re: improvisation, the resultant enjoyment of this session will vary. The music, by and large, is very active; it’s rare that one or more of the musicians sits out until they have something pertinent to contribute. Instead, there’s a fairly constant flow of notes in what might be called a “conversational” style with the musicians clearly reacting to each other. This is all well and good and fits in comfortably with much improvised music of the past 50 years, music that has its audience. Kleeb is, of course, an outstanding pianist and her touch, sense of form and clarity of sound serve her very well here. Dahinden, to these ears, spends too much time investigating effects that have been around since at least Vinko Globokar; he’s fine but a sense of individuality that emerges naturally with Kleeb is hard to ascertain. Babel spends a large portion of time on sustained vibraphone, sometimes to a cloying degree and is elsewhere general quite active, light and scurrying. This listener would have welcomed some marimba or other less ringing percussion. That said, the trio negotiates its lines nimbly, evoking a nice selection of colors and, especially given the short duration of the tracks (between two and six minutes), handily maintains interest.
My gripe, coming from a post-AMM perspective, is that one senses that no real chances were taken; there’s no tension of possible failure. They know what they’re capable of and execute it, confident that something jewel-like will emerge. In doing so, they produce a set that, had someone played it blindfold-style and said that it was a 1975 session of, say, Fred van Hove, Albert Manglesdorff and Günter Sommer (albeit exceedingly well recorded), I could have accepted that. In 2018, there’s no longer any sense of danger, of the unexpected, of encountering roadblocks. For many listeners, of course, this isn’t a problem and they’ll find much to enjoy here: very competent music performed by three excellent musicians. Others might find themselves anxious for one or two missing, subtle ingredients that could have provided a welcome feeling of uncertainty.
Comments and Feedback: