Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Barry Guy New Orchestra day 1 - small groups at Alchemia

photo by Krzysztof Penarski
1st set
Augusti Fernandez solo
Absolutely stunning improvisation by Augusti who plays a long and extended piece on piano barely using the keys! He starts with some kind of wooden block on piano strings and, he's plucking, drumming, tapping, hammering and using all kind of small objects on strings that will jump and reverberate on them adding percussion quality to the sound. First the overall sounds is that of some kind of ominous harp, very deep and dark. Than it gets wilder, rougher and finally Augusti creates some kind of an open ocean storm, very powerful, but with a natural flow to it, with phrases going repetitive in some like ways, yet constantly changing the direction. Hats off
Augusti Fernandez / Barry Guy
The second piece of the first set is a tune entitled "Anna Lisa"  by Barry Guy (originally written for bass solo). The piece starts with a lovely theme, joyful and serene.  But they start digging deeper into the harmony, under the melody, adding slowly dynamics and drive to the them, until they completely abandon it. Only to get back later for a second. They will get back to it a few times, each time to start a completely different journey around the world, and get back, surprisingly,  to the same place. The wildest part include Barry Guy using the bow, than another one (just the wooden part) hammering the strings with passion, and after that sticking some metal stick between the strings and hitting on it with a drumstick, looking very much like a boxer during the fight, jumping constantly on his feet and using constantly his reflexes to avoid the hit. Which is complemented by fast arpeggios by Augusti running all over the keyboard length with both hands. 

2nd set
Mats Gustafsson solo
Mats plays baritone on this one and he's one of the most impressive players on the instrument I had a chance to see or hear. He starts with very percussive sounds of tongue-flapping, instrument's keys clicking. Very imaginative and detailed playing on this part. Than he starts the deep, very bodily baritone sound, and you can feel he is playing right from his guts. Very soulful and passionate sound, highly energetic too. In fact he looks like he is lifting some heavy weight. He plays two, both very impressive, pieces.
Hans Koch (bass clarinet), Johannes Bauer (trombone), Per-Ake Holmlander (tuba)
The one ad-hoc group of the night and most abstract and the less 'jazz' part of the evening. Obviously in big part because of the unusual line-up. They engage in this three-part conversation with some adventurous sound research, often with Johannes or Per-Ake providing more substantial and melodic base for the other two. Uttering strange sounds, whooshing, shooshing, splashing all over the stage. I had this funny image of cartoon monsters which after a while turn out not to be scary at all. It's great not only too hear them playing but also to see them perform. Loved the little dance of Johannes Bauer while he was soloing. Also loved to see the creativity presented by Hans Koch who for a second used his cheek to play on the clarinet! Very abstract yet fun.

3rd set
Evan Parker/Barry Guy/Paul Lytton

It's like you get to have a dessert after a very satisfying meal. This trio is one of the finest in the improvised scene all over the world. And while not so much into it at the beginning, by the end of the mighty improvisation I was all inside this strange world. This set had it all, passionate playing, wild improvisations, solo moments, some sonoristic games, incredible musicianship (Evan Parker circular-breathing technique is amazing) and most of all absolutely masterful interplay between the 3 musicians who played together for many, many years. I can't even find the adjectives i could use here. It's like they str  creating the whole world with the sounds. You see all the shapes, all the colors, you can almost touch it. It's like they are re-playing the process of creation. A beautiful set to close the very first evening of this project. 

additional notes
1 Before the concert, the exhibition of some great photos by Peter Gannushkin was opened. Including portraits of 4 musicians that are playing in the Barry Guy New Orchestra.
2 The first 2 sets were both around 30-35 mins. The last one was the longest - about 40 mins plus a short encore.
3 All the music (very much like the Resonance Project from 3 years ago) was recorded, hopefully, to be released.
4 After hunting down all the musicians to get some cds signed I had a chance to listen to great discussion between Barry and Peter on the topic of flying with the instruments and they ways it can affect music :) Got to know some fun facts.  

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