So-called "lower-case" improvisation can run into its own kind of dead ends and ruts. After flourishing near the beginning of the decade, some musicians seem to have encountered something of a difficulty ascertaining where to go next, how far down the sparseness road to travel, how much (if any) ornamentation to allow in, etc. One answer, of course, is not to worry about any of that and to simply let one's inherent musical qualities lead one where they will.
Happily, this seems to be the route often taken by those improvisers occupying the Iberian Peninsula, including Creative Sources operators Ernesto Rodrigues (here on viola) and Carlos Santos (real-time sampling) who team with the fine trumpeter Birgit Ulher to create this always solid and sometimes stellar effort. Rodrigues' bucolic cover photographs aren't bad descriptors of much of the music contained herein which, true to its genre, eschews the dramatic in favor of the contemplative, events drifting past one another, sometimes interacting, sometimes not. At its best, as on both the opening and closing tracks ("The Idle Class" and "Johnny Stecchino"-all titles derive, obscurely, from movies), the trio evokes very convincing sound-worlds, areas in which each decision makes a kind of sense, even if the logic is difficult to quantify. Ulher abides in quiet flutters and breath tones, Rodrigues makes as much use of the body of his viola as its strings (again, for the most part softly, often bowing the wood) and Santos exercises reserve and restraint in what he chooses to remold and how he slots it into the ongoing action. Dips in interest as well as rises are encountered along the way, as to be expected in any honest endeavor. But the general level is high enough to reward a listener interested in the area as well as to provide one more bit of evidence that the field in question remains fallow. Doppelgänger is one of the better efforts along this path in recent months.
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