Title: Sirone's Concord
Released in: 2003
Catalog No: MW 751-2
Price : 12 EUR
1. Aisha's Serenade [10:41]
2. You Are Not Alone But We Are Few [07:34]
3. For All We Don't Know [10:19]
4. Swingin' On A String Of Things / For Albert [07:54]
5. You Are Not Alone But We Are Few / Reprise [05:40]
Sirone - double bass
Ben Abarbanel-Wolff - saxophone
Ulli Bartel - violin
Maurice de Martin - drums
Unless I'm mistaken the last time bassist Sirone released an album under his own name before Concord was 1980, and one wonders why on earth we didn't hear more of him in the intervening years. Concord is a quartet featuring Ben Abarbanel-Wolff on tenor saxophone, Ulli Bartel on violin and Maurice de Martin on drums, and their playing on these five Sirone originals is solid and convincing without being flashy. Bartel's rich double stops support the arching melody of the opening "Aisha's Serenade", tapping into a rich vein of European folk fiddle. On "You are not alone but we are few" Sirone reaches for the bow and engages Bartel and Abarbanel-Wolff in sensitive dialogue, while de Martin adds deft touches of percussion colour. On "For all we don't know" violin and saxophone stretch out on a simple modal melody in two-part harmony, while Sirone and Martin roll along underneath in fast triple time. It all flows effortlessly, and manages to be constantly engaging, even passionate, without ever going overboard. A boisterous drum solo leads without a break into the superb freebop "Swingin' on a string of things / For Albert", the Albert in question presumably being Ayler, as acknowledged by the gospel inflections of Abarbanel-Wolff's splendidly gutsy solo, and Bartel plays Michel Sampson to perfection. The reprise of "You are not alone but we are few" is a fine touch, rounding off the album with another superb bass solo from the leader. European concert promoters who fall over themselves to book acts from New York (I'm thinking particularly of French festivals such as Banlieues Bleues and Sons d'Hiver) should turn their gaze to the east and sign these boys up fast.
(Dan Warbuton, Paris Trans Atlantic)
Sirone’s sidemen on CONCORD are tyros compared to his RE associates, though tellingly, two play the same instruments as Jenkins and Cooper. Munich-born drummer Maurice deMartin studied at New York University with avant movers like the late Dennis Charles and Joey Baron, he has also worked with East European jazz- and folk-musicians. His countryman, violinist Ulli Bartel, studied at Boston’s Berklee College, composes for theatre and film projects and usually plays with more mainstream musicians.
Odd man out is Washington D.C. native Ben Abarbanel-Wolff, a saxophonist who has lived in Berlin since 2001. Someone who studied with master percussionist Milford Graves, he often works with Sirone. On this, the bassist’s first CD under his own name in 23 years, the four hit the ground running with “Aisha’s Serenade”, the first and longest tune. A waltz that manages to be both freeboppish and country’n’western-like, it’s built on a lilting theme expressed by the saxophonist and fiddler. Almost immediately however Abarbanel-Wolff goes off on his own with slurs and trills in a gritty post-Sonny Rollins style, mixed with Aylerian overblowing. Sirone’s steady thump and de Martin’s rumble back Bartel adding tremolo country-like licks, though his tone would be a little thin for Nashville. Buzzing vibrations characterize the bassist’s interpolation and the piece climaxes with a brief drum solo featuring shaken claves.
From that point until the final tune that reprises the second one, all the compositions run right into one another without pause. Especially notable are “For all we don’t know” and “Swingin’ on a string of things/For Albert”, which one after another show off Sirone’s writer’s gifts. The first is pastoral, near baroque chamber piece, while the second, as can be guessed by the title, relates to those sessions saxophonist Albert Ayler made with Dutch violinist Michael Sampson. Sounding as if Abarbanel-Wolff is playing the baroque flute and Bartel the viola d’amore, the former piece features the bassist’s lateral accompaniment giving Bartel space to vibrate a legato, unhurried and refined solo section. Eventually Abarbanel-Wolff proves it’s a saxophone in his hands, and begins growling. Standard drumbeats bisected by wood block, rattles and maraca shakes then moderate the reed squeaks. Polyphonic harmonies characterize the violinist and saxman on the second number. Abarbanel-Wolff takes a winding, overtone rich solo, though even here his harsh double tonguing and glottal reed biting are more Rollins circa THE FREEDOM SUITE than Ayler. Bartel adds staccato, double-stopped vibrations, Sirone’s plucked accompaniment holds down the bottom and de Martin bounces and rebounds his drum beats. Finally the theme is recapitulated in Aylerian fashion. AND NOW… proves that the Revolutionary Ensemble still work together excellently after all these years apart, and the ellipses suggest there’s more to come. Meanwhile CONCORD suggests Sirone isn’t doing too badly on his own.
(Ken Waxman, Jazz Weekly)