Title: The Steps That Resonate
By: Martin Kuchen, Agusti Fernandez, Zlatko Kaučič
Catalog No: MW-2 1025-2
Price : 12 EUR
1. The steps that resonate (The Impro Tune) 38:43
Martin Kuchen – soprano & sopranino saxes, small percussion
Agusti Fernandez – piano, objects
Zlatko Kaučič – drums, objects
at BUMF festival Šmartno - Goriška Brda, Slovenia, September 9, 2021. Recorded and mastered by Iztok Zupan - October 2021.
What the critics say:
Let's test the laws of thermodynamics with free improvisation music. The first law of thermodynamics states that energy can neither be created nor destroyed; energy can only be transferred or changed from one form to another. This law is sublimely displayed during the live performance by Martin Kuchen, Agusti Fernandez, and Zlatko Kaućić at the BCMF Festival in Slovenia, in 2021.
While the Spanish pianist Fernandez and drummer & percussionist Kaučič have toured and recorded together—check out their duo Sonic Party (Not Two, 2018) and their collaboration with Evan Parker on Diversity (Not Two, 2018)—this is their first recorded outing with the Swede Küchen; the saxophonist, probably best known for his work in the various Angles ensembles, the Trespass Trio with Per Zanussi and Raymond Strid, and with the Landæus Trio, is equally comfortable playing inside or outside music, composed or free; like his partners, he is a dynamo. That is obvious from the crash which opens this set. The thermodynamics proof occurs as each player transfers the charged particles from their instrument to the others. Fernandez plies the insides of his piano, Kaučič activates his drum kit and objects, and Küchen sets in motion extended saxophone techniques, inspiring change without a mitigation of energy.
As for the next law of thermodynamics, hot things always cool unless you do something to stop them; the trio does allow for space throughout. They seem to pause to take stock of their creation before diving headfirst back into their improvised generator. Which verifies the hypothesis that entropy of a closed system can only increase. Class dismissed.
(review courtesy of Mark Corroto and AllAboutJazz.com)
Uniquely orchestrated with all three members bringing a trove of objects & percussion, the trio of Martin Küchen on saxophones, Agustí Fernández on piano and Zlatko Kaučič on drums are heard in this two-part live concert at BUMF festival in Smartno, Slovenia, for a superb example of intent listening and use of space around confident, stunningly creative & virtuosic playing.
"Dispensing with the double bass and its rhythmic pulse is only a risky matter if a band faces unexpected breaches in musical strategies. There's no chance of that happening on these well-paced sets, since the groups involved are well acquainted with split second decision making during instant improvising.
[...] the players on The Steps that Resonate resonate one extended and one brief encore dedicated to tussling, sometimes brawling, high-octane Free Music. Each is a veteran of that genre. Slovenian percussionist Zlatko Kaucic plays with partners like Evan Parker; Catalan pianist Agustí Fernández, works with Parker, Barry Guy and many others; while Swedish saxophonist Martin Kuchen has recorded solo sets and with everyone from Ingebrigt Håker-Flaten to Raymond Strid.
Stopping infrequently for brief quiet refueling, Küchen/Fernández/Kaučič begin with a collective pounding that's one-part rugged drum crashes, one-part dynamic keyboard pressure and one-part rooster crowing reed shrills. The three operate at that elevated level for almost the next 40 minutes. Along the way the saxophonist unearths nearly every manner of extended reed techniques, with his parts peppered with pinched yelping and buzzing, continued tongue slaps and tongue stops, strident overblowing and piercing split-tone screams. Shaking metal objects, squeezing plush toys as well as clanking and clattering regular drum kit parts and cymbals, Kaučič maintain a percussive overlay that squires, shifts and shoves the interface. Not to be outdone, Fernández not only vibrates the keyboards with dynamic, staccato patterns, but also rumbles low tones from the woody parts of the piano and strums and pinches the instrument inner strings, something juggling items upon them.
After the saxophonist's stretched duck calls and aviary gargles are met by piano soundboard rumbles and descending drum slaps, a brief interlude of stopped piano keys rattling and straight ahead trebly vibrations from the saxophonist adds emotional resonance to the situation. Shortly afterwards however all three revert to energetic output with Fernández sweeping what could be a metal comb across the strings for added resonance, Küchen snarling and whining tsopranino timbres and Kaučič's slaps and rattles keeping pace. Finally they reach a crescendo of trilling cries, doits and smeared vibrations from the saxophonist that coupled with drum nerve beats and simultaneous keyboard battering reaches a point of no return and dissolves into silence. In response to audience demands the brief coda reaches some semblance of the initial commotion, but is a bit superfluous since the trio members have said all they needed to in the first instance.[...]
(review courtesy of Ken Waxman and Soundohm.com)
If you are not familiar with Zlatko Kaucic’s work, even though he is prolific and, deservedly, he is often presented on this site, you should go back in 2011 and listen to Round About One O’ Clock (again on Not Two Records), his duo with Evan Parker. Parker there is on top form and Kaucic is equally brilliant. Not an easy task indeed. Having said that, let’s get back to the present and to The Steps that Resonate, a free jazz come improv trio that kicks ass.
Recorded in another periphery of free improv, the BCMF Festival in Slovenia, except from Kaucic on drums and objects, you will enjoy Marin Küchen (by the way do check out his sublime 2021 duo on Clean Feed with Slovakian percussionist Michaela Antalova) on soprano and sopranino saxes plus pianist -always vocal about what’s going on in this world- Agusti Fernandez. All three of them are highly skilled musicians totally committed to the ethos of improvisation, as you already know by now.
The cd is comprised by two tracks named after the title as parts one and two, with part one being the core of the recording. This is a stellar performance, one of those that if you are lucky enough to attend, resonate inside you for quite a long time. The path followed by the three is the usual of collective improvisation. Using the word usual is, though, both an understatement and a euphemism.
There’s nothing usual in their egoless - sometimes aggressive, other times subtle - playing. In fact the only “usual” connection you will find is that this cd follows the steps of any great improvisational recording. Their playing is non-linear and they don’t seem to be willing to know exactly where they are going. Fernandez is very aggressive on the keyboard of the piano, hitting notes as if he is really angry. Probably his most aggressive performance I’ve heard. Kuchen seems to be going back and forth between a totally energetic approach and a more subtle playing. Kaucic is the centripetal force that keeps the centrifugal attitudes of the other two together. But do not get me wrong, both Küchen and Fernandez dissolve into a path of their own only to reach a point of playing together again. They are not soloists but, different voices on a parallel, linear road.
This cd is too good to be missed and another strong candidate for 2022 best of. I’m quite lucky with what I review lately.
(review courtesy of Fotis Nikolakopoulos and Freejazzblog.org)
Anime e corpi di miriadi di progetti, il sassofonista svedese Küchen (Angles 9, soprano, sopranino e piccole percussioni), il pianista spagnolo Fernández e il percussionista sloveno Kaučič danno letteralmente fuoco alle polveri in questa splendida improvvisazione catturata al BCMF Festival di Šmartno, nel Collio sloveno, e pubblicata dalla polacca Not Two Records. Di come Kaučič sia un rabdomante della musica creativa abbiamo già parlato a più riprese, i due partners in crime non gli sono da meno e cospirano senza requie con fitte trame che svariano da esercizi di acrobazia sul limitare del silenzio a esplosioni vulcaniche. Il tutto con un controllo del suono, un’ispirazione ed un sentire telepatico che hanno del prodigioso. Grammatiche liberissime per un discorso istantaneo che ha la complessità di un’Odissea ed invece è un canto rauco dell’istante, abitato da un mood luminoso, primitivo, selvatico, apocalittico. Queste musiche convocano le divinità dei cieli e delle terre: nel mistero che si annida dentro alla cordiere del pianoforte, nel tasto bianco per la nota nera, nelle urla del sassofono e nei rituali ctoni della batteria espansa sono custoditi, intatti, la gioia e il fascino che la musica libera continua ad esercitare sulle nostre orecchie. Un disco per gli introdotti al segreto dell’impro-jazz della più bell’acqua: non c’è nulla da capire, nulla da aggiungere, nulla da chiosare. Sono solo didascalie, tentativi di chiudere in un angolo il buio che avanza nei secoli, nelle stanze. Siamo animali pensanti e abbiamo cominciato a produrre suoni per imitare la natura, per lenire il timore di una tempesta, per scacciare lupi, orsi. Lo eravamo, lo saremo. Passi che risuonano: orme, epica infranta, ombre, vita. Poi spariremo, poi morte. Ascoltate questo cd.
(review courtesy of Nazim Comunale and TheNewNoise.it)
Not Two... But Twenty
The Voice Is One
Agustí Fernández, Rafał Mazur