Slip Slide and Collide

Slip Slide and Collide

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by Torben Snekkestad, Barry Guy

Torben Snekkestad – saxophones, reed-trumpet
Barry Guy – double bass

This latest release on Maya Recordings documents a new
duo collaboration of Barry Guy together with the exceptional
Norwegian saxophonist Torben Snekkestad.

At convergent boundaries, tectonic plates collide with each other, sometimes slowly, other times giving way suddenly with huge energy being expended. The various plates that encompass this planet either get subducted by being bent and pulled under the crust, or they collide and fold the rock at the boundary creating mountains. Whatever way the plates move, there is an end result only for a moment as the forces adjust.

There are indeed certain moments when the individual contributions by the two players are modified by collision - and sonic adjustments are made when one voice slips and slides around the other. This all happens in the blink of an eye compared to the millions of years that the earth adjusts its crust.

We chose the title “Slip Slide and Collide” as a playful affiliation, but nevertheless there is indeed a special moment when two powerful players negotiate their musical boundaries and present us with islands of creativity and resolution.

from the liner notes by Maya Homburger

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Famous for his compositions and leadership of large ensembles, British bassist Barry Guy is also a veteran small group participant. This notable CD is the most recent example of this skill, but this time his playing partner is one of the most recent members of the Barry Guy New Orchestra, Norwegian saxophonist Torben Snekkestad.
Copenhagen-based Snekkestad, who teaches classical saxophone, works in chamber music, rock, folk music and jazz. Someone who plays soprano and tenor saxophones plus reed-trumpet, he’s particularly concerned with the creation of multiphonics. Throughout Slip, Slide and Collide’s 13 tracks that ability is demonstrated superbly but judiciously.
Guy whose reed duo partners have included Mats Gustafsson and Liudas Mockunas, has for many decades been closely affiliated with Evan Parker, who redefined the idea of multiphonic saxophone invention. Although Snekkestad utilizes common Parker tropes such as circular breathing and irregular vibrations, he has many of his own ideas. Supportive, as well as proactive, the bassist’s skill allows him to construct ambitious string sleight-of-hands, while simultaneously anchoring the tracks with tough strums.

Snekkestad’s unique concept is apparent as early as “Utsira”, the first track. Vibrating timbres resembling those of a ram’s horn create a feeling of frigid loneliness embellished by Guy’s sharp string clanks. The reedman’s hunting-horn-like cadenzas are put to good use on “Achill”, as his whispery tone adds unambiguous buoyancy to Guy’s muscular chording, with the tune climaxing with a sonic heat exchange. Nonetheless, Snekkestad’s characteristic tonal sweetness prevents even his shrillest circular breathing to replicate Parker’s harsher variations. The Norwegian’s folkloric attributes plus Guy’s expertise in early music also create a particular niche. During “Silda” and “Ana” for instance, Snekkestad’s vibrating split tones are filtered to create a rustic melody, just as Guy’s below-the-bridge string strokes resemble mandolin plucks or metallophone peals. At times this could be a recorder-and-lute duet.
More consistently though whizzing reed bites from Snekkestad and stacked tremolo pumps from Guy confirm that this is no exercise in folk-improv. Tracks such as “Fedje” and “Cruit” demonstrate the duo’s free music orientation. A chromatic line is preserved on the former as Snekkestad’s tongue slurps and slaps prompt Guy to figuratively dig into the bass wood for rhythmic direction. The second tune takes previously divided tremolo dissonance from reed overblowing plus spiccato string bounces and unites them into an exhilarating crescendo of sweeps and snorts.
While the two may sometimes slip and slide around each others’ contributions, generally their musical thoughts coalesce rather than collide.
Tracks: Utsira; Skeam; Ombo; Gurumna; Silda; Achill; Anda; Cruit; Lopra; Gola; Fedje; Scattery; Senja
Personnel: Torben Snekkestad: soprano and tenor saxophones; reed-trumpet; Barry Guy: bass
(Ken Waxman, The New York City Jazz Record November)

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Both Norwegian saxophonist Torben Snekkestad and British bassist Barry Guy have been classically educated and have performed and released classical CDs, but they are equally active in modern music and jazz. On this duo set, both musicians improvise on thirteen relatively short pieces, and what they bring us is more than worth listening to.

The album's title, "Slip, Slide and Collide", is taken from a metaphor of the movement of tectonic plates on our planet's crust, and gives an indication of what both musicians do, but then it doesn't, because it reduces their interplay to some mechanical geographic occurences, instead of intentional dialogues, which can be fierce, but also gentle, and even emotional. 'Utsira', the first track gives a good example of the latter, when Snekkestad's sax howls like a sad dog, with notes being bended to higher pitches, full of agony. In 'Ombo', the two musicians engage in a more parlando discussion, with short bursts full or surprise and antagony.

On the long 'Gurumna" we get the opposite: the bowed bass creates a foundation of long stretched notes, an invitation for the sax to join in the dark and ominous atmosphere, which is wonderfully dispelled by the almost joyous and lyrical 'Silda', on which the sax sounds warm and round, while the bass sounds like tumbling pebbles.

My favorite track is 'Cruit', a sensitive and beautiful interaction between bowed bass and high-pitched sax.

These two artists know their instruments, they sense each other well, and use the space for maximum contribution, including the occasional silence or resonance. One of the better sax and bass duets of the last years.
(Stef Gijssels, Jazz Blog)

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Saxophoniste norvégien d’une quarantaine d’années, Torben Snekkestad participe à de multiples aventures musicales aux esthétiques variées. Membre du Copenhague Saxophone Quartet ; soliste pour le Norwegian Radio Orchestra ou l’Athlelas Sinfonietta Copenhagen dans le domaine classique, il s’intéresse également au jazz aux côtés de Trygve Seim (il participe à Different Rivers, ECM, 2001) et s’aventure également sur le territoire des musiques improvisées. C’est là qu’on le retrouve en compagnie d’une des personnalités majeures de la musique européenne, le contrebassiste anglais Barry Guy capable, lui aussi, de travailler dans des contextes entièrement ouverts, comme sur des partitions contemporaines ou baroques.
Cette similitude dans les parcours, doublée d’une parfaite maîtrise technique de leur instrument, leur permet de développer une unité sonore d’une grande pureté où se distingue parfaitement l’intégralité des tessitures de chacune des voix. Cette attention portée à la matière est d’ailleurs le moyen d’en décliner toute les possibilités et de proposer une grande variété de climats, du bruissement au déclenchement du chaos.

Si le saxophone de “Utsira” en introduction rappelle la flûte shakuhachi, soutenu par la contrebasse, la répartition des rôles n’est pourtant à aucun moment convenue : Guy peut tout à fait s’approprier les parties hautes du discours, le saxophoniste trouvera aussitôt à se replacer. Le duo génère ainsi sa propre stimulation dans une démarche démocratique : ils vont de paire, l’un en dessus ou au dessous, en échange vif, opposé ou complémentaire. Une attention particulière est néanmoins toujours accordée à la forme, plutôt concise pour ce genre de performance puisque les morceaux dépassent rarement les cinq minutes, privilégiant ainsi le geste et l’ellipse.
Maya Homburger (violoniste baroque et compagne de Barry Guy) qui signe l’album sur son label Maya Recording, justifie le choix du titre en comparant la confrontation de ces deux personnalités aux glissements et autres collisions que subissent les plaques continentales dans leurs mouvements. Les heurts violents et inéluctables font se dresser les montagnes et se creuser les vallées, de nouveaux paysages jaillissent et font naître de nouvelles terres fertiles. De la musique comme force tellurique.
(Nicolas Dourlhès // Publié le 6 décembre 2015)

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Die beiden Insulaner Torben Snekkestad (Norwegen, Saxophone, Trompete) und Barry Guy (Irland, Doppelbass) widmen sich in den 13 Tracks ihres Duoalbums enorm abstrakten und dabei sehr intimen Studien. Beider Basis ist Jazz, und was hier zu hören ist, wird wohl zuerst unter Avantgarde oder Free Jazz verstanden.
Die lichten und bisweilen deftig auffahrenden Freispiele sind ebenso unterhaltsam, ansprechend und von fast fröhlichem Gemüt, wie sie zart sanftmütig, tief lyrisch und anregend wild sein können. Noch soeben flüsterten beide Instrumente amelodische und doch eingängige Phantasien, da bricht kurz eine wütende Passage auf, kreischt das Saxophon, donnert der Bass – und schon legt der Staub der Stille sich wieder über den Ausbruch.
Diese beiden Musiker sind ganz bei sich und zaubern eigene Struktur, die inspiriert und lebhaft wirkt. Vermutlich wird ein Konzert der Duos in geeignetem Raum weitaus mehr Eindruck machen als diese CD. Doch die im großartigen, klaren Klang aufgezeichneten und mitreißend gemixten Songs machen klar: diese erhabene und erhebende Musik kann nicht ignoriert sein.