Schlippenbach Trio - Gold is Where You Find It



This recent Schlippenbach Trio recording comes close on the heels of the last, at least in comparison to the lengthy gaps between their previous meetings of past decades. A natural question rests in whether it stands out substantially in the group’s existing corpus? Arguable metaphors abound, but one that keeps cropping up in my cranium is that of a miniature Zen garden. The rake and sandbox are the same. It’s the furrows and patterns amongst assembled grains that reflect the difference. Annotator Ben Young dubs the trio the Three Wise Men and explicates on the near-telepathy that exists between them. Both the ascription and the posited collective extrasensory ability are evident from the opening “Z.D.W.A.”, an improvised piece that harkens back to the ensemble’s free jazz roots in its rapid deployment of controlled explosions. So too does the closer “The Bells of St. K”, credited to Schlippenbach and thick with slow rising tension. Other tracks carry the semblance of individual composer credits, the overlap with spur-of-the-moment improvisation in seamless.

Parker speaks solely through tenor and the focus is a boon for those who prefer his granular vernacular on the larger horn. Sharply serrated blowing interchanges with a feathery phraseology that finds him ferreting at melodic fragments. Dry and cottony, tonal comparisons to Getz and Marsh aren’t so confabulatory, though in Parker’s case the abrasiveness of steel wool is within easy reach. His solo opening on “Three in One” avoids circular breathing in favor of finite phrase lengths and it’s another winsome deviation from the standard playbook. Schlippenbach’s piano resounds with roiling rhythms and decaying chord structures, balancing vigor with chamber detail. His strings plus keys manipulations on the title piece create a cascading percussive climate in collusion with Lovens. The drummer is his usual dynamics-driven self, spending as much time on carefully-constructed texture as velocity. Sequenced back to back, his “Slightly Flapping” and “Amorpha” stack percussive minutiae into terse time spans. The mix of short bagatelles and lengthier pieces mirrors some of their work for FMP though the sounds here have a definite advantage thanks to state-of-the-art studio clarity. The disc’s title suggests a simple, but accurate reduction of the trio’s chemistry, a quantity both conscious and unconscious catalyzed by a confidence in the longevity of their particular context.

~ Derek Taylor

Posted by derek on May 24, 2008 1:58 PM

you know i love this trio - can't wait to hear this one (if i get to.) derek, i'll be coming up to minneapolis for 5days from 6/4 - 6/9: any improv i can lay my ears around? milo fine? any weekly series?

Posted by: unwrinkled ear at May 28, 2008 9:22 AM

A good record, with a beautiful sound, but "Complete combustion" (1998, with the same kind of short pieces, "Fuels", is still in my head... - I don't know exactly why... the presence of the soprano ?)

Posted by: ::: g ::: at June 30, 2008 1:50 AM

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