Featuring: Liudas Mockūnas | Agustí Fernández
Agustí Fernández - piano
Liudas Mockūnas - contrabass clarinet, soprano and tenor saxophones
Maciej Lewenstein -
The second side of this beautiful duo album was recorded more or less half a year after "The Swiftest Traveller" in Vilnius, while the rst one in December 2019. The recordings took place live during the concert series dedicated to improvised music, "Improdimensija", at MAMAstudio. The music is a little less exploratory than this recorded with Don Malfon or Torben Snekkestad. It sounds for me more like a 21st century response to the late music of Jimmy Giuffre music from the end of 1980s and 1990. On the Side A there are "Improdimensions I - Part I-III". Agustí hardly gets inside piano, and maybe that is the music sounds more traditionally". Both "Part I", and the wonderful "Part II" are for soprano, and remind me of other impressionistic piano-soprano duos, like Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter and their "! + 1". My favorite is "Part III" played on tenor, reminding me of "old" duos of Agustí with Evan Parker. Side B contains also three parts. The opening "Part I" is a quiet lyrical piece with plenty of silent moments, and fantastic inside piano parts and contrabass clarinet, as Liudas confirmed, generated "frog" like sounds. "Part II" in contrast is mostly a "normal" piano solo improvisation in the style of Keith Tippett's "Mujician" recordings. The closing "Part III" is the
most abstract track with incredible effects and howl of Liudas, first supported and amplified by the inside piano explosions. Liudas leaves the stage for the more "traditional" minimalist piano fragment in the end fragments. If, as Alber Ayler said, music is the healing force of the universe, then this album heals like hell!
Alain Fleche -
Nouvelle parution de la courageuse (dans ses choix musicaux ) maison de disques lithuanienne. On a entendu ce pianiste catalan vétéran (66 ans) auprès de Barry Guy, Derek Bailey, Evan Parker ou Joe Morris, et tout ce qui compte dans la musique improvisée d'Europe et d'ailleurs... parmis la centaine d'enregistrement auxquels il a participé. Ses qualités d'écoute et de réaction, son jeu varié, de minimaliste à foisonnant en font un musicien incontournable dans le genre. Concernant ce jeune multi-souffleur local (Lithuanien né en '76), c'est sur une scène plus jeune et aventureuse que nous l'avons croisé, avec, entre autres piliers actuels : René Duby, Marc Ducret ou Sylain Darrifourq. On comprend facilement que son style autodidacte et personnel, privilégiant sensibilité et émotion, ainsi que sa large palette sonore aient touchés d' autres défricheurs en quête de compagnon d'exploration.
On entend tout ça, et plus sur ce très beau disque (en totale impro) qui peut sembler être une réponse, ou une suite au travail de Jimmy Guiffre qui participa à l'élaboration du 3ème courrant (Third Stream) avec Lenny Tristano et le MJQ, ainsi qu'un hommage à Cecil Taylor pour qui le silence est indissociable du son, et de la musique. Communion totale entre les 2 artistes qui se cherchent, se trouvent, communiquent en concertation unifiée ou contradictoire... La tension est palpable dans cette discution haut niveau où la virtuosité et la spontanéité se mêlent naturellement. Chacun s'exprimant librement, exposant des idées, un sens, appelant le sentiment de l'autre sur cette proposition qui sera partagée, enrichie, ou bien modifiée, contredite, mais toujours avec respect et acceptation de ce qui vient d'être émit.
De belles plages presque désertes, des cris d'oiseaux fabuleux et coquillages qui chantent. Pluies de cordes obstinées sur claquements de clés. Concerti contemporains à ravir les auditeurs avertis les plus exigents. Paroxisme de notes, de sons inconnus dans un esprit libertaire où rien ne se perd mais rebondi jusqu'au prochain silence, materia prima d'où émergent de nouvelles intentions lointaines, prennent corps en catimini, en douce(ur), s'affirment, un nouveau sujet est abordé ! Le silence ponctue les fragments de manifestes qui passent par le tamis de l'apréciation de chacun des duétistes, en temps réel avec l'émotion resentie par tous. Silence qui n'est seulement une séparation et un lien entre 2 propositions, mais aussi qui existe, pour lui-même, repos des oreilles, de l'attention, de l'esprit. Mêmes'il ne persiste, il a le temps d'imprimer une couleur sur ce qui l'a précédé et ce qui suit. Une respiration dans un univers plein de formes joyeuses, d'instants dramatiques, de paysages fantasmagoriques... On s'attend souvent à entendre les 2 bons parleurs éclater de rire, après une tension gérée, pendant une pause habitée. On imagine les plis de leurs visages suivant les images qu'ils mettent en page, et que l'on prend pour cadeau, contents. Magie de l'instant. Magie permanente de chaque instant passé avec ces 2 poêtes-sculpteurs de sons au style si particulier ! Un très beau disque rare.
Stephen Griffith - Free Jazz Blog
Agustí Fernández has been a staple feature of recent European small group improv recordings, displaying his fine-tuned ability to listen and respond to his playmates together with a staggering proficiency both inside the piano and at the keyboard. This album features continuous performances divided into three pieces from the 2018 & 2019 concert series by the Catalan pianist and Lithuanian reed player Liudas Mockūnas. “Improdimension I” is the more recent event and begins with Mockūnas on soprano saxophone, as he and Fernández engage in an animated conversation, going back and forth with much chattering and many tempo changes as each participant allows the other to state his case before responding. Mockūnas switches rapidly from harsh raspy attacks to sweetly melodic scamperings, while the pianist’s internal machinations are constrained to jangly, damped stings and sliding what always sounds like a billiard ball across the higher registers. On the second track a harsh soprano attack is followed by muted staccato notes on the piano, in turn matched by the horn’s metallic dots. Fernández’ pianistic legerdemain produces rapidfire damped notes with percussive pounding. Wood blocks are dragged over the strings as the soprano takes off on a circular breathing flight followed by a darting melodic excursion on the keys. For “Part III” Mockūnas switches to tenor saxophone, initially exchanging spiralling lines with Fernández before the piano starts a persistent rhythm in the lower register, at the same time maintaining the higher lines. The sax reacts to this by venturing gradually lower on the instrument until reaching some of the deepest tones I've heard from a tenor, as if it has a bass sax attachment, bringing the set to a pleasantly jarring conclusion. “Improdimension II”, from 2018, features Mockūnas on contrabass clarinet, a mighty instrument which has a reverberant range extending well below that of the bass clarinet and provides a nice tonal segue from the tenor blasts. It opens with Fernández playing sparse notes at the top and bottom ends of the keyboard, gradually modifying the strings to get resonant lows and icy highs before Liudas enters with a croaky underpinning on his earth-bound clarinet. Fernández then plays a quick, damped pattern as Mockūnas shifts to the higher range of the instrument, like the cries of a humpback whale, followed by slap-tongued notes that resemble boxes crashing on a ship deck, to complete the nautical imagery. The second cut is Fernández alone, with a skittering bumblebee flight building into a droning wall of sound that slowly crumbles to nothingness through the intervention of rapid fingerwork over his keyboard. The final track has elephantine sounds descending ever deeper, joined by Fernández’ modified strings and drones, until the instruments fade in and out as the listener tries to construe which is playing what. Percussive punches and voices bring things to a conclusion. These are two wonderful performances that don't outstay their welcome. Agustí Fernández has been a personal favourite for a long time but Liudas Mockūnas was new to me and has already received further investigation. Hopefully, further joint explorations are in store.
Stef Gijssels - Free Jazz Blog
Every year, the „Improdimensija” (Improdimension) concert series is organised in Vilnius, Lithuanua, and is dedicated to improvised music. This duo performance of Spanish pianist Agustí Fernández and Lithuanian reedist Liudas Mockunas was recorded in two consecutive years, the A-side of the LP from December, 2019 and the B-side in November 2018. Both sets are equally intense, sometimes raw, closer to free improv, with no patterns to be discerned at all and lots of timbral explorations, and at other times both artists find a rhythm, however implicit, to drive things forward full of energy and power. The second session starts with lots of silence and weird sounds coming from inside the piano and a like-minded saxophone, shifting into high forward moving tension on the second piece. An amazing album that will keep its power with many listens.
Ken Waxman - Jazz Word
Simplicity and delicacy aren’t on show during Improdimensions’ two three-part expositions. With stripped down instrumentation, Mockūnas has room to whistle, buzz and trill textures from his graceful but somewhat nasal soprano saxophone, produce hard tenor saxophone fills and eventually growl dynamic split tones from his bass clarinet. In dual counterpoint, Fernández alternately expresses low frequency comping or accelerates challenges with thickened rubs, including what could be a metal comb pulled along the piano’s internal strings. At the centre of “Improdimension I” as keyboard styling becomes more percussive, keyboard strikes and quaking slaps make common cause with circular overblowing, flattement and finally circular breathing until bass clarinet snorts that follow responsive piano glissandi settles into staccato theme elaboration. First contracted to thinner tones, “Improdimension II” soon moves from the horn and piano innards as Mockūnas gusts colored air from his horns and Fernández concentrates splayed notes into kinetic shakes and vibrations. The climax is polyrhythmic and more rugged, as knife-sharp stroke against the piano strings give way to conclusive guttural reed cries plus broken-octave doits from the bass clarinet.
Stuart Broomer - New York City Jazz Record
Liudas Mockūnas is a Lithuanian reed player, composer and improviser who, over the past 20 years, has built up an impressive discography, with international collaborations including duets with Marc Ducret, Barry Guy and William Hooker and groups with Vladimir Tarasov, Vyacheslav Ganelin and Raymond Strid. These two LPs, recorded at Improdimensija (Improdimension), a Vilnius concert series, extend that documentation. Mockūnas, who turns 45 this month, may not be well known outside his native land, but he sounds perfectly at home with some of the world’s most accomplished improvisers. Improdimensions, duets with Catalan pianist Agustí Fernández, comes from two different editions of the titular series, “Improdimension I” from December 2019, “Improdimension II” from October 2018, each side in three segments. “Improdimension 1” begins with Mockūnas on soprano in a remarkable display of close listening, the saxophonist and pianist mirroring one another’s phrasing in a freewheeling, almost rhapsodic improvisation suggesting classical modelling and structure. The second episode takes the same attentiveness into the realm of sound exploration, the saxophonist initiating with a mad honking of metallic ducks, eventually drawing percussive punctuations of prepared piano. The segment eventually gives rise to individual flights, Mockūnas exploring rapid multiphonic runs that have their own character, followed by Fernández’ forceful two-handed chromatic fantasia. When Mockūnas switches to tenor for the third segment, he shows rare discretion, emphasizing subtle distinctions in attack and tone production as well as a strange bass range. The musicians are in almost perfect lock-step, brilliantly negotiating a blank manuscript that bridges third stream and free improvisation. The earlier “Improdimension II” opens with a spacious reverie with Fernández moving between keyboard and strings, eventually turning to highpitched, sliding sounds as Mockūnas enters playing his secret weapon, a contrabass clarinet he mines for complex squawks and wavering tones around the depths of the human hearing range. The middle segment is a piano solo, a powerful and characteristic Fernández invention with a broad sweep from chromatic flurries through bass rumblings and highregister tremolos, ultimately arriving at a pensive ballad. The final segment, a tour de force, has Mockūnas opening with a solo passage of contrabass clarinet in which his ability to create seemingly independent parts adds a hallucinatory element to this potent brew, which is further extended when Fernández inserts more zither-like runs inside Mockūnas’ lines.