Snekkestad - Fernández - Guy
TORBEN SNEKKESTAD / saxophones and reed trumpet
AGUSTÍ FERNÁNDEZ / piano
BARRY GUY / double bass
TORBEN SNEKKESTAD / saxophones and reed trumpet
AGUSTÍ FERNÁNDEZ / piano
BARRY GUY / double bass
An exciting international trio initiated by an active force in Scandinavian improv - saxophonist Torben Snekkestad. Here, he is ﬂanked by two major international capacities in the ﬁeld of free improvised music – the Spanish pianist Agustí Fernández and the British double bass player Barry Guy. The three of them have been working with each other in different constellations during the last decade (i.e. Barry Guy´s Blue Shroud Band), but a concert during Copenhagen Jazzfestival 2017 marked the real beginning of this iconoclastic trio project.
LOUISIANA VARIATIONS Review by Derek Stone
Torben Snekkestad and Barry Guy first worked together on 2015’s impressive Slip, Slide and Collide - that recording, with its labyrinthine improvisations and near-feverish eruptions, proved the duo to be fiercely attuned to one another. Now, on Louisiana Variations, another voice is drawn into the fold - that of Spanish pianist Agustí Fernández, a long-time collaborator with Barry Guy and an excellent composer/improviser in his own right. On this release, the trio lose none of the intensity previously kindled by Snekkestad and Guy; if anything, the fire is stoked, the coals are prodded, and the improvisations whip out wilder and further than before.
“LV #1” gets things off to an inconspicuous start, with the players circling one another tentatively. Snekkestad employs a number of extended techniques - wheezing exhalations, conch-like sputters, and the like. When he does transition to more traditional tones (as he does on the latter half of the track), his runs are almost serene. It speaks to Snekkestad’s talent as a saxophonist and improviser that both approaches suit the piece well. Barry Guy is as interesting as ever, moving from arco to pizzicato with aplomb; it’s unfortunate that the bass is mixed a bit too low here, but the distinctly tactile tones that he produces nonetheless help to color the improvisation and lend it a sense of aggressive urgency. Fernández, with his rapid, percussive attack, matches both Snekkestad’s timbral explorations and Guy’s raw physicality. As the improvisation winds down in the last few minutes, Fernández (by way of omission) introduces a sense of space into the piece that, gradually, starts to crack at the seams - his notes begin to bunch up and cluster, buoyed by Guy’s distended groans.
In “LV #2,” the lightfootedness that Fernández displays on the first piece is uprooted entirely - instead, he utilizes various extended techniques that engulf Guy and Snekkestad in an outpouring of creaks, scrapes, and wind-blown acoustic effects. Eventually, these harsh tonalities give way to a hellish choral section: the three players each release a stream of notes that, taken together, seem like approximations of some infernal inversion of glossolalia. After the somewhat harrowing abstractions of “LV #2,” the third improvisation, though carrying a seed of foreboding, is rather contemplative and mild.
The final two improvisations are the longest and, perhaps, the most exploratory. “LV #5” opens with unnerving sheets of sound from Fernández and Guy’s rumbling cascades. Guy and Fernández have worked together for a long time, in various contexts, but to hear them engaged in such raw expressions of physicality together will never not be invigorating; when Snekkestad joins in with his sinewy, serpentine runs, it’s as if an insect were alighting on the face of a monolith. On “LV #6,” the final piece, Snekkestad opens with a solo that, despite its relatively straightforward development, carries shades of the enigmatic. Underneath, Guy traces out fragments of arco that emerge, surge, and dissipate. By the improvisation’s midpoint, Fernández inserts himself into this disquieting space, employing various extended techniques that serve to prod both Guy and Snekkestad into a kind of feverish abandon. In the last few minutes, Fernández returns to the percussive style of “LV #1” - rapid-fire clusters and pounding repetitions that, along with Guy’s turbulent bowing, bring the piece to its climax.
Fans of the esteemed Aurora Trio (Barry Guy, Agustí Fernández, and drummer Ramón López) might find Louisiana Variations hard to stomach; unlike that trio’s more melodic and composed approach, the trio of Snekkestad, Fernández, and Guy make music that is uncompromisingly bleak, and there is a little in the way of a melodic “thread” to grasp onto. Nevertheless, for those who are drawn to this kind of raw, unfettered interplay, Louisiana Variations is likely to be a treat. These three players are masters at carving out a sonic space (and then filling that space with all manner of tonal and timbral mutations). It’s an adventurous release from an adventurous trio of improvisers - what more could you ask for?
LOUISIANA VARIATIONS Review by Maciej Lewenstein
This is a masterpiece from a super-super trio, and another success of Fundacja Sluchaj! and Maciej Karlowski. I list it under Agustí's entry, because at this moment neither Barry nor Torben are "upgraded" to Polish musicians.
Torben, born in 1973, in a sense is a very fresh member of the "saloon". Of course, Agustí and Barry played in many trios or quartets, including such personalities like Ramon Lopez, or Evan Parker, or other incredible partners. Still, this encounter is without any doubts, a diff erent and incredibly beautiful spatio-temporal event.
Torben is essentially capable to use any of the free improvising techniques.
On "LV #1" he demonstrates it: with Agustí playing a "normal" piano, and Barry accompanying with a bow, he produces a sequences of high frequency shot sounds, interchanges with Evan Parker-like phrases.
"Louisiana Variation #2" has di fferent mood, first of all because apparently my beloved friend Agustí enters the
inside of the piano. But, as far as I can hear, Torben turns here to the trumpet, and does it fantastically. In the final, dramatic and explosive fragment he comes back to the tenor.
"LV #3" is the most beautiful track of the disc: it is a ballad with wonderful free cantilena pieces, Agustí outside piano, Barry finger pickin', and Torben on soprano. A pure, unforgettable delight.
"LV #4" is perhaps the most exploratory and abstract, but nevertheless somehow lyrical and touching.
"LV #5" starts also in a very avantgardist way, with Agustí exploring the inside piano, and Barry combining bow strokes with bow hits. After two minutes it changes the mood to a peaceful, but very abstract ballad.
The fi nal "LV #6" is a master piece of synergy and mutual understanding. Torben play a tenor with such a peaceful, yet stimulating sound that only sit down and rest in peace.
The disc, btw. was recorded in KoncertKirken - Blågårds Plads" in Copenhagen with "Louisiana on Their Minds". The photos by Krzysztof Machowina prove it.
Accomplished free improvisations in six sections affirm once again how, this approach has permeated the consciousness of three generations of musicians. Plus the sound’s universality is also communicated....Compact and with no reliance on formal composition, the variations here demand instant response and application, with all three prepared to instantaneously move from foreground to background and vice versa...Overall this CD provides proof of each member of the trio’s skills plus the longevity of Free Musical expression.
(Ken Waxman – Jazzword )
An example of focus, mutual listening and great interaction! From sadness to joy. From suppression to the storm of hormones. High volatility of shares, unity of space and time. A multitude of impressions and emotions - definitely the best part of the concert! Torben on the tenor gives a great change. Thunderstorm! How beautiful! The finals reach the finale, satisfied with smiles on their faces. Good job, gentlemen! Grand final! A masterful ending!
(Serpent.pl - Andrzej Nowak )
The trio is extremely focused and balanced just right. Starting off quietly and spaciously, the trio slowly combine forces and build in intensity. Mr. Snekkestad switches between several reeds & trumpet, selectively weaving his playing with the diverse piano and bass interplay. Both Mr. Guy and Mr. Fernanez are well-matched, with Mr. Guy exploring by banging on the strings with objects and Fernandez scrapping the strings inside the piano. Mr. Snekkestad sounds somewhat like Evan Parker when he plays soprano, spinning out notes furiously before settling down to a more minimal web. There is a section midway where Mr. Fernandez erupts and plays some of that Keith Tippett-like intensity pushingthe other two players into the stratosphere!
This disc is high-end improv at it very best!
(Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG)
Og hele veien er det musikk som nærmest er skapt for at man skal lukke øynene og skape sine egne bilder inne i hodet. For dette er musikk som nesten fungerer som en roman. Som aldri kan filmes, men hvor lytteren skaper sine egne bilder til musikken, som sikkert er helt annerledes enn de bildene musikerne selv har. Og det er noe av det som er så fascinerende med slik musikk. Man vet aldri hvilken vei musikerne tar oss. Er det noe vi har hørt før i den strofen? Hvilken film kan dette være fra? Er dette gjort av en klassisk komponist? Spørsmålene står i kø, og den beste måten å finne ut av det, er å lukke øynene, åpne ørene på vid gap, og bare la musikken ta bolig.
Fascinerende både live og på plate.
(Jan Granlie – saltpeanuts)
Den norske saksofonisten og visjonæren Torben Snekkestad har gjort danske av seg. Som musikant er han så global som vel tenkelig....
Sammen med Agustí Fernández og Barry Guy tar Torben Snekkestad oss med til hittil ukjente steder.
I Danmark har Snekkestad over tid skapt et uttrykk og en palett som har røtter både i improverdenen og i samtidsmusikken. Han har enkelt og greit makta å skape noe han er helt aleine om og det får vi to flotte eksempel på her....Det de gir oss er høyst personlige og sjeldne musikalske ekskursjoner - spennende og kompromissløs musikk.
( TOR DE JAZZ - Tor Hammerø )
Et bien justement, Barry Guy me fait parvenir ce disque en trio avec le saxophoniste et trompettiste Torben Snekkestad, en compagnie du fidèle Agusti Fernandez au piano. "Louisiana Variations" est une suite déclinée en six parties dont la durée varie entre cinq et onze minutes, dans un équilibre idéal. L’introduction se fait à coups de souffle puis le saxophoniste s’exprime dans les aigus, à la manière d’un Evan Parker alors que le piano égrène quelques notes éparses et la contrebasse s’insinue entre ces sonorités nerveuses. Le piano trille et les doigts se promènent d’un bout à l’autre du clavier, l’archet se fait entendre en progression sur les cordes de la contrebasse, le saxophone se fait plus lyrique, chantant mais aussi mordant, le piano gronde et le trio s’enflamme.
Le second mouvement débute dans les stridences des cordes préparées, tout comme le piano, étouffé à l’intérieur, et la trompette émerge, éraillée, l’ambiance dégagée n’est pas faite pour être jolie, et pourtant ce passage est certainement le plus concentré du disque. Retour à un calme précaire pour la troisième partie, avec quelques accords et des bribes de ritournelles. Les trois plus longs morceaux suivent, contrastes entre suraigus du sax revenu et de la contrebasse en profondeur, archet martelé ou frotté sur les cordes en mouvements circulaires, piano à nouveau bridé qui lui répond et la soutient, on agit dans la rondeur et l’éparpillement, ça percute même, l’intensité est à son comble. Retour rageur pour le cinquième mouvement, totale improvisation, on sent les cordes envahies d’objets vibrants, le saxophone s’envole très haut et le piano tente de ramener tant bien que mal ce semblant de cacophonie vers des endroits plus sécurisés.
C’est ainsi que débute la phase finale. Le bourdonnement du saxophone nous ramène à des sonorités Parkiennes (façon Evan), puis l’archet rentre dans le cercle et le piano sait se faire désirer. Mais ce calme relatif ne cache pas longtemps la furie que l’on sent poindre. Et l’ouragan (inoffensif, même pour nos oreilles) déferle, avec des pauses et des reprises, laissant ici ou là chacun s’exprimer pleinement.
On connaissait le pianiste et le contrebassiste, il va falloir désormais compter sur ce nouveau saxophoniste et trompettiste dans ce monde particulier de la musique improvisée. La relève est assurée.
On this release, the trio lose none of the intensity previously kindled by Snekkestad and Guy; if anything, the fire is stoked, the coals are prodded, and the improvisations whip out wilder and further than before...... Snekkestad, Fernández, and Guy make music that is uncompromisingly bleak, and there is a little in the way of a melodic “thread” to grasp onto. Nevertheless, for those who are drawn to this kind of raw, unfettered interplay, Louisiana Variations is likely to be a treat. These three players are masters at carving out a sonic space (and then filling that space with all manner of tonal and timbral mutations). It’s an adventurous release from an adventurous trio of improvisers - what more could you ask for?
(Free Jazz Blog)
2018, LOUISIANA VARIATIONS Torben Snekkestad, Agustí Fernández , Barry GuyListen Foundation FSR01/2018