Issued on the Polish imprint Sᴌuchaj Fundacja (Listen Foundation — one of many specialist labels in creative music from that country), this disc documents a first time encounter of three seasoned improvisers, drummer Ramon Lopez, bassist Joe Fonda and clarinetist Guillermo Gregorio. In a little under 45 minutes, eight pieces ranging in the three to eight minute range unfold, five wholly improvised (all performers given equal credit), the remainder by the reedist. If the musicians had met in the studio for the first time, they manage to connect quite well, from the appropriately titled "Opener" straight through to the album closer "Drawing in the Margins". In between, these three gentlemen establish a very chamber-like feel, reminiscent of the quiet intensity championed by Jimmy Guiffre. But they can get fractious, too, like on the second track "When I meet You". This may well be jazziest piece of the set in that the clarinetist lets the fingers fly in response to the driving pulse laid down behind him. Most noticeable throughout the program is the bassist's marked preference for arco playing over pizzicato. In two of the compositions, "Cosa Rara" and "Tres", he adds depth to the mid-range clarinet lines by doubling them in lower octaves. As would be expected, there are no explicit tonalities spelled out, but the musicians do not really need them to make the music gel.
While Fonda is clearly the best known of the three, and surely second to none when it comes to his ubiquitous presence in the American creative music scene, the native Spaniard and longtime French resident Lopez might have come to the attention of some through a handful of releases on Leo Records. Gregorio, for his part, originally hails from Argentina, where he once was part of a Fluxus-like collective back in the 1960s and 1970s (his earliest efforts compiled in an album issued several years ago in the Unheard Music series). During a stay in Vienna in the late 1980s, he hooked up with Franz Koglmann, a meeting that led to a series of releases under his own name for Hat Art in the mid-1990s. Around that time, he emigrated to the States, making his home in Chicago and carving his niche, ever so discretely, in that city's bustling creative music scene. Musically, he is no bona fide free jazzer, but a quiet experimentalist whose music is a natural extension of a very inquisitive mind, with specific interests in the visual arts (and architecture in particular, his original field of training). At one time or another, he played both alto and tenor saxophones, with a marked preference for a cool aesthetic, yet clarinet, a chamber music instrument par excellence if ever there is one, is best suited for his thoughtful artistic endeavors.
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