[This review was first published in Jazz Journal in 2010.]
How to go into a room you are already in
Rosette; Blueshift (for M.H.)
Some Other Place
Barcelona, May 2008 and April 2009
Maya Recordings MCD0902
Both with his own quartet and in past collaborations with the likes of Derek Bailey and the Parkers, William and Evan, Mallorcan pianist Agustí Fernández is a leading European exponent of improvised music. His sometime companion, free improv bassist Barry Guy was once a member of the Spontaneous Music Ensemble and alongside his current projects runs Maya Recordings. Enough credentials.
On first listen, the separate parts don’t appear to sit together entirely comfortably but the repeated listenings bring out the thematic consistency of collaborative (never competitive) tension and exploration as both musicians seek to exhaust the possible combinations of their instruments.
At times, the sounds result from an attack on the instruments’ structures rather than any traditional manipulation of keys or strings. At others, a sparse exchange of single notes pulls the listener down and inward… only to be spun around by hammerings and scrapings as the next movement of this almost-suite begins.
Throughout, the constant back-and-forth between gentle melodicism and disturbing aural assault demands engagement with what is ultimately a brave dialogue between two artists making the very most of their instruments’ possibilities.