The association between the German pair of saxophonist Stefan Keune and drummer Paul Lovens dates back to the early nineties when they played together in a quartet with English guitarist John Russell and double bassist Hans Schneider. Unfortunately, no recordings of that foursome surfaced, although Keune and Lovens did record separately with Russell, Keune notably in duos, Lovens in the ground-breaking group New from the Shed. So, despite their years playing together, Live 2013 is the very first release to pair Keune and Lovens.
There is a difference between the ages of the two, and a mismatch between their experience too, with the drummer being senior by some sixteen years and having a far larger discography, to the extent that the releases by one of the groups he plays in (the Schlippenbach Trio or Globe Unity Orchestra, for instance) would dwarf all those from Keune. Despite such considerations, in this duo the two are equal partners, largely as a consequence of the sax-drums format which never allows either party to keep a low profile or play it safe. By nature, neither Keune or Lovens is wont to hide or opt out, so the pairing is ideally suited to this configuration.
Recorded live in concert in Munich and Brussels over consecutive days in April 2013, Live 2013 features the duo on two extended tracks plus a two-minute Munich encore, altogether totaling just over an hour. Although Keune is credited with playing sopranino, alto and baritone saxophones, he mainly opts for alto; he forensically explores its upper reaches in great detail, sometimes becoming so absorbed in the task that Lovens administers a nudge to reignite their interactions. Keune plays occasional long notes, but his vocabulary consists far more of series of rapidly-articulated, chirping and twittering short notes, giving him a personal style that is immediately recognisable; always exploratory, he does not mark time or linger, but is always moving on. As ever, Lovens makes thrilling listening, the fizzes and crashes of his cymbals providing an ongoing support for and commentary on Keune's playing. The two tend to ebb and flow together, giving the music a series of climactic peaks and subtler troughs; when the two roar together, sparks really fly! Well worth seeking out.
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