ITALIA.ALLABOUTJAZZ.COM, 31/08/2016; Zlatko Kaućić, Ab Baars: Canvas

Registrato a Cracovia nell'ottobre del 2014, questo CD documenta una delle performances di due maestri dell'improvvisazione europea, che si conoscono e collaborano da molti anni, quali sono il percussionista sloveno Zlatko Kaućić e il sassofonista e clarinettista olandese Ab Baars.

Le sette tracce iniziano con un'improvvisazione piuttosto lunga (quasi ventidue minuti), molto tormentata e dinamicamente intensa, nella quale a fare la parte del leone e Baars, che inanella fraseggi nervosi, tecnicismi espressivi, gesti sonori lancinanti sostenuto da un ossessivo tappeto tessuto da Kaućić, impegnato sopratutto ai tamburi. A seguire un'altra traccia lunghissima, oltre sedici minuti, stavolta pero piu meditativa e nella quale e piu centrale il batterista, che si muove in liberta anche alle sue molte percussioni.

Quest'ultimo scenario che si ripete anche nel terzo, piu breve brano, quasi interamente un solo di Kaucic, mentre nel successivo la palla solistica passa a Baars, che lavora al clarinetto su soffi e sovracuti.

Nelle ultime tre tracce il dialogo torna in equilibrio e trova anche una maggiore misura, conservando inventiva ma aprendo a una narrazione piu immediata e persino a frammenti lirici, che non a caso portano a intitolare il brano conclusivo (di nuovo oltre i dieci minuti di durata) "Almost Danceable" -sebbene di danza emotivamente tormentata si tratti.

Certo siamo di fronte a una di quelle opere improvvisate complessivamente non immediate, probabilmente piu apprezzabili dal vivo; tuttavia l'impatto espressivo e molto forte nella prima meta del disco, mentre nella parte finale l'ascolto e piu direttamente fruibile, quasi a compensare l'intensita drammatica dell'esordio.

Track Listing: Paint Up Your Visions; Strup; Vrtilljak; Polder Wind's; Mimogrede; Sputa; Almost Danceable.

Personnel: Zlatko Kaućić: batteria, percussioni; Ab Baars: sax, clarinetto.

Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: NotTwo Records

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(NERI POLLASTRI)



WWW.SIGIC.SI, 03. april 2016; Platno za bobne in pihala

Pričujoča recenzija leta 2015 izdanega albuma Canvas, na katerem je zabeleženo odrsko srečanje holandskega pihalca Aba Baarsa ter briškega tolkalca Zlatka Kaučiča, prihaja v ravno še primernem trenutku. Prav te dni je namreč že izšla Kaučičeva prva izdaja v letu 2016, še vsaj štiri pa so v nizkem štartu. Že lani se je (tako ali drugače) podpisal pod šest plošč in iz te perspektive je zadnje čase zagotovo v enem svojih aktivnejših ustvarjalnih razdobij. In kakor je ta ustvarjalnost večdimenzionalna zadeva, so takšne tudi izdaje: beležijo, recimo, njegovo aktivistično, producentsko in mentorsko delo, sprotne koncertne presežke in zaokrožene avtorske projekte. Vsa ta dela se, kot je za Kaučiča nenazadnje značilno, pnejo čez širen diapazon možnih glasbenih izrazov.

A okoliš free jazza in/oziroma svobodne improvizacije je vseeno osišče njegovega ustvarjanja, in tu sta od lanskih izdaj verjetno najbolj reprezentativni deli Canvas ter posnetek nastopa tria Disorder at the Border (Kaučič, Maier, D'Agaro). Slednji zvočni zapis še ni bil recenzentsko pokrit v nobenem domačem mediju, kar je posledica več dejavnikov, med drugim nemara tega, da je izdaja preprosto preveč žanrska. Žanrska v tem smislu, da je specifična mehanika tega polja tudi redno založniško beleženje uspelih momentov živega odrskega muziciranja, ki niti nujno ne gredo onkraj ... no, onkraj že česa. Bil je dober koncertni večer, super špil, vsak član je izkazal zavidljivo imaginacijo in spretnost – in hej, gremo v tiskarno. Čeravno je to na neki način precej konzervativna praksa za polje, ki se kiti s predikatom avantgardnosti, je ravno takšna produkcija s svojo neobremenjenostjo in nepretencioznostjo pogosto ena njegovih večjih kvalitet.

No, obravnavani album vseeno vzpostavlja svoj lasten zvočni prostor, in čeravno sledi formatu zgodovinskega free jazza, je »naslikan« v stilno pestri maniri. Prepoznavno Baarsovi in Kaučičevi pisavi se v platno (Canvas) vpisujeta z zelo osebnim, čustvenim nabojem ter svojevrstnim prepletom. Muzičista sta se, če odmislimo krajše srečanje v osemdesetih, prvič resneje spoznala na Kaučičevem festivalu Brda Contemporary Music Festival, kjer je Baars, vplivna figura na nizozemski svobodnoglasbeni sceni, vodil tridnevno delavnico. Tedaj so njegovi »eksplozivni rafali tenor saksofona prav neverjetno masivno in že povsem fizično vznemirljivo nadaljevali kleno strojniško tradicijo severne Evrope. Za drugo polovico nastopa se mu je pridružil Zlatko Kaučič ... Njegova medigra z Baarsom ... je prava dialoška predstava triade teza–antiteza–sinteza, njegov smisel za humor pa je v tej glasbeno avantgardni in performativno (pre)resni sceni izjemno dobrodošel in kar nekam preveč redek pojav.«

Ta nastop je vodil v soroden, a tudi drugačen, manj jedrnat (in ne posebno humorno obarvan) špil v Krakovu, natančneje v klubu Alchemia, od koder pravzaprav izvira večji del izdaj poljske založbe Not Two. Zvočni zapisi, ki jih ta založba vsaj zadnji ducat let najbolj pridno proizvaja, so zgovoren kontekst: Ken Vandermark izda vsaj album ali dva na leto, ob njem pa so še razni Petri Brötzmanni, Matsi Gustafssoni in Joeji McPheeji, v glavnem torej predstavniki starejših generacij, ki imajo v polju te muzike že renome in soliden simbolni kapital. Da je Canvas že četrta izdaja našega bobnarja pri Not Two, je markantna referenca, še posebej za nekoga iz karierno zahtevne geografske periferije.

V konstelacijo vsega tega je vstavljena zabeležena muzika, ki se je porodila v raznolikem, čutnem in energičnem koncertu. Začel se je z glasnimi, razvnetimi sklopi rezkih, oglatih saksofonskih fraziranj ter gostih, z bas bobnom podloženih kosmov ritma, ki se pozneje zvežejo (pa potem spet razvežejo, zapletejo in tako dalje) v kompleksno, težko berljivo poliritmično gmoto. V poznejših tišjih delih se vešči rabi bolj zračnih perkusij pridružijo Kaučičeve drobne zvočne vragolije, ob njih pa Baars s klarinetom metodično gradi napete, skoraj baladno obarvane serije subtilnih, pridušenih melodičnih nastavkov. Temu sledita dva solo kosa, en je izvrstna »melodična« perkusivna skladba Vrtiljak, drug pa Baarsov s sakuhačijem odigrani Polder Wind's, poln tišin in razprtega zvoka inštrumenta, v katerem kot da se bije bitka pobeglih dihov in zablodelih zračnih tokov napram trudoma prigarani homogenosti zvena. Zanj je zlasti značilna zadržanost, ki je prava osvežitev na sicer zelo nasičeni plošči.

Čeravno je bila zadeva od začetka do konca morda prepričljiva v živo in v tem oziru pač primerna za izdajo, pričujočega recenzenta vseeno ne prepriča, da je bilo treba vse te ne vedno efektivne 73 minute zvočno zabeležiti. Ob vseh vznemirljivih skicah, ki se nizajo na platnu, bi nekoliko krajša, bolj porezana plošča verjetno prinesla bolj dosledno vznemirljiv album. K tej naphanosti v največji meri prispeva Baars, ki na momente svojo vlogo tretira preveč solistično in potem Kaučiču skoraj ne ostaja drugega, kot da v igri call-and-response prevzema funkcijo odziva in prepogosto tke zgolj odmev, prevod pihala v perkusijo. Izrazita gostobesednost pihalca je artikulirana, jasna, vendar se ob takšni dialoškosti uvodni 22-minutni kos vseeno zdi nekoliko razvlečen. V nadaljevanju, v komadu Strup, oba postaneta bolj ekonomična, in ko Kaučič le dobi več prostora, tega morda prevljudno polni z niansiranim, finim in ambientalnim igranjem in tako somuzikantu povzroča kar premalo problemov. Bolj komunikativne narave so poznejša Zlatkova perkusivna mreženja okoli Baarsovih impro-bukoličnimi fraziranj pa zaključni in nekoliko bučnejši, celo z abstraktnim funkom namazani sklopi.

Čeravno je bila zadeva od začetka do konca morda prepričljiva v živo in v tem oziru pač primerna za izdajo, pričujočega recenzenta vseeno ne prepriča, da je bilo treba vse te ne vedno efektivne 73 minute zvočno zabeležiti. Ob vseh vznemirljivih skicah, ki se nizajo na platnu, bi nekoliko krajša, bolj porezana plošča verjetno prinesla bolj dosledno vznemirljiv album.

(Anže Zorman)



WWW.ALLABOUTJAZZ.COM, April 5, 2016 ; Zlatko Kaučič / Ab Baars: Canvas

Slovenian drummer/percussionist Zlatko Kaucic (Kaučič) was very busy in 2013-2014. The meetup with pianist Milko Lazar for Ena / One took place between November, 2013 and March, 2014. The disc at hand finds Kaucic performing with Dutch reedman Ab Baars, recorded in October, 2014. Baars is well known in the free jazz side of the Dutch scene.

As expected, the music is quite different although the intent is the same: to bring together two free improvisers and see what happens. Recorded at the Alchemia Club in Krakow (no audience), (like the meeting between François Carrier and Rafal Mazur for Unknowable), Kaucic and Baars produced seven tracks that are at once mystifying, intimidating, amazing and a lot of fun.

The opening track "Paint Up Your Visions" is almost twenty-two minutes long and stops completely feigning an ending almost exactly in the middle. The sounds Baars gets are astounding, as is the interplay between him and Kaucic. What might seem chaotic at first takes on shape and form with close listening and a "letting go" or "wait and see" attitude. The intelligence and direction behind the seeming randomness becomes apparent as the track progresses. "Vrtilljak" is a tour de force percussion piece in which Kaucic manages to keep a pattern going while playing intensely around it.

Each of the rest of the tracks has a different way of holding together in that there is some melodic fragment, technique or overall sound. On "Polder Wind's," Baars sounds like he is playing the clarinet without a reed, sounding at times much like a flute. "Strup," at sixteen minutes, the second longest track begins as a percussion solo, with tuned gongs attracting attention. Baars enters with some overblowing at first, but then a three-note scale fragment appears and is repeated, twisted and stretched enough that it becomes recognizable as a theme.

The last three tracks ("Mimogrede," "Sputa" and "Almost Danceable") share the sound of what might be called "melodic refraction." This means that what Baars plays sounds like it could be a melody, but the phrases of which are so displaced rhythmically and tonally as to hint at the ur text but never gives it away. Think "Mary Had A Little Lamb" with the familiar notes displaced in varying octaves with their time values altered. One might intuit that what is heard has something familiar about it, but never quite get what that something is. This "refraction" is quite attractive and compelling and brings the music closer to the listener.

And yes, "Almost Danceable" is, well, almost danceable, ending an extremely intriguing session that manages to achieve a familiarity and even charm with repeated listens.

(BUDD KOPMAN)



WWW.AXS.COM, Jan 8, 2016; Album Review: 'Canvas' from Zlatko Kaučič and Ab Baars

The organic exchanges orchestrated between percussionist Zlatko Kaučič and saxophonist Ab Baars are wickedly eccentric on their new release Canvas. Their irregular rhythms produce peaks and valleys along the progressions, evoking a stream of consciousness technique powered by surges of impulsive sparks. Melodic themes are interpreted with a free-style penmanship as the musicians plot their notes randomly when examined from a logical mind. The music requires a free thinking audience who can admire the freedom welded by two creative imaginations.

Like a Jackson Pollock painting, notes are splattered and drizzled, ascend and descend, squeal and puff in a whimsical manner from the observer's point of view. "Paint Up Your Vision" is a cavalcade of abrasive saxophone squarks and screeches fringed by percussive instruments that thread explosive interruptions. The sandpaper-like scratches of Zlatko's percussion project a cobra-like shudder in "Strup," which switches to streaks of percolating drum strikes coursing through "Vrtilljak" beaded with splashing cymbals.

The sparseness of "Polder Wind's" is adorned in wispy aerials designed by a windpipe-style tool, making for a delightful listening experience as the breath moves through a cyclinder-like structure and comes out the other end touching the air. It's like leaving one's fingerprint in the breeze and converting the moment into an audible form. "Mimogrede" frames Baars' wavy saxophone puffs in drizzles of percussive sounds and then withdraws to soft clamors as the squeals of Baars' sax grew brooding through "Sputa" plotting a piercing zigzag along the evolving stages of the composition. The final number, "Almost Danceble" is a lively banter between the saxophone and percussion as the two carry on in a casual manner, each moving along independently of the other.

Uniquely orchestrated, Canvas shows that music comes in many forms. A composition doesn't require recurring motifs but rather can be freely expressed and made from strands of notes that sound differently each time they make an appearance. Music is a compilation of sounds in the duo's hands. They experiment with tones, exploring sharpness and contrast of tones and intertwining them in ways that never follow the same path, proving that Kaučič and Baars are model innovators.

(Susan Frances)