Friday, November 19, 2010

Barry Guy New Orchestra Day 3 - small groups at Alchemia

Mats Gustafsson - photo by Krzysztof Penarski
1st set
Evan Parker/Augusti Fernandez/Barry Guy/Paul Lytton
The great thing about this set is that you actually get to hear 3 bands. Quartet, Sax trio, Piano trio. They start off with a lot of angular lines and dense facture. Strong pulse by Paul on drums pushes the dynamics constantly forward. Lots of knotted playing by Augusti. Evan is playing mostly tenor and you get to hear a handful from his array of vocabulary. From some whispering, spare sounds, to the wonderfully mesmerizing lines he does with his so impressive circular-breath technique. There's a wonderful segment where his lines are echoed by Augusti and then Barry. Yet again I find the most impressive bow work by Barry, he also produces some beautiful delicate sounds when plaing with mallet on strings. Very strong intro set to what would be an amazing evening.

2nd Set
Maya Homburger, Paul Lytton
Another baroque violin solo piece composed by Barry - "Celebration" which was dedicated to her father on his birthday. Some pristine passages of intense beauty. Maya would execute 'the hard stuff' and the 'actual notes' (as introduced and shown by Barry) while Paul would provide a complementary background with his small objects percussion playing with lots of crackling or metallic sounds. Very appreciated piece although, yet again, I find myself incapable of saying anything more concrete about this kind of music. It's definitely great though to hear it in such rare context.
Mats Gustafsson, Augusti Fernandez
The rule of the 2nd sets stands so far - again the most abstract one of the evening. Mats starts tongue-slapping, swinging his body and baritone from side to side, bending down, gathering strenght for what would seem like an infinite pause, only to play another single spare sound. Augusti bends over the piano to reach the strings and it seems like he's completely inside the instrument, both literally and metaphorically speaking. Together they create a world of nuanced sounds, organic low drones on piano, strong gutsy yet soulful sound of Mats's vibrato. It's amazing to see the tension and completely wild excitement on Mats's face, with this tongue out in kinda devilish way (contrary, in those rare moments you get to see Augusti's over the piano he's look focused entirely on the strings). This one is all about detail, nuances, various tinges they manage to create. It's like this eerie kind of silence before the storm. All those barely audible sounds, the ones that you're not even entirely sure are actually there. Preparing for the storm, building up the tension. Yet the storm never arrives this time. They keep you on your toes, Constantly posing an imminent threat of a full-scale natural disaster. When Mats gets to play also the fluteophone and produces some wailing sounds, you can feel the whole energy level suprressed inside, boiling under the surface and restrained for this time. They subside suddenly and it feels like the threat of storm never happened. Huge applause from the audience for this magical performance.

3rd set

Mats Gustafsson, Barry Guy, Raymond Strid
Just when you think they can't top that they proove to you they can deliever. This group gets right to the business. With incessant hi-hat drive provided by Raymond whole group just gets into the groove and discharge the energy, realizing the threat posed in previous set. Powerful, intense, deep and  emotional. They do tone it down a little bit, With some almost bluesy lines by Mats, stunning melodic work, they get to very zen passage, with gongs, bowed plates, mallet on bass strings and suddenly they find this almost unisono line that joins together bass and sax, slow, bit mantra-like, or ode, or an anthem, gaining slowly the momentum, till it gets to to the powehouse riff-like melody by Mats that just brings the house down. The 2nd improv contains some more abstract sound plays, bits of splattering and frogging, metal stick between the bass strings, some feverish play and yet another climax. The musicians are rewarded with an ovation and reward back the audience with a short ballad-like encore full with echoing and reverberating sounds.
What a night! So far, definitely the best one of the week

or maybe it was just those couple rounds of mad dogs shots after :)

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