The Squid's Ear Magazine

Altenburger, Martine  / John Russell: Duet (Another Timbre)

This duet between cellist Altenburger and guitarist Russell was recorded at the Musique en Mouvement Festival Theatre du Jarnisy in 2008, an intense and intricate dialog of great dynamics.

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product information:

Label: Another Timbre
Catalog ID: at27
Squidco Product Code: 12983

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2010
Country: UK
Packaging: Jewel Tray
Recorded by Stephane Levigneront at the Musique en Mouvement Festival Theatre du Jarnisy, Jarny, 22nd November 2008. Mastered by Le Quan Ninh.


Martine Altenburger-cello

John Russell-guitar

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Descriptions, Reviews, &c.

[..] Duet will probably fall under the EFI heading because it is made by musicians that have been improvising for quite a while, involves acoustic instrumentation and in places can sound quite fast and busy. Still just sounds like an improvised music CD to me ;) So yes it is true that this CD could have been released twenty years ago without anyone blinking an eye. It isn't as full-on and frantic as you might expect however, quite the opposite in many places, but certainly it is acoustic, doesn't involve much in the way of extended technique and portrays a direct dialogue between the two musicians. In fact, its beauty all lies in that dialogue.

Duet was recorded live at a festival in France in 2008. I've no idea if Russell and Altenburger had played together prior to this occasion, but it probably doesn't matter. This is an unedited recording of a meeting of the two musicians, a conversation if you will, almost as if someone had sneaked a recording device into a semi-heated debate over afternoon tea, only the words here are replaced by the sounds of bowed and struck cello and plucked and strummed acoustic guitar. I actually do listen to this music as if I were listening to two voices. If other improv records might include a wider variety of sounds, so that the juxtaposition of disparate elements might add to the intrigue, break up the flow, so here this CD contains a simple, if intricate conversation between two musical voices. The sounds do seem to sing out as if articulating words, lines of interlocking sound do feel like sentences, sometimes squabbling with one another, sometimes in harmony. The lack of any edit suggests a warts and all discussion, the good bits thrown in with the awkward, the rushes of activity offset by the temporary gasps for air. If you just sit and listen here, separating the two sets of sounds in your head, thinking of them as individual voices but then listening to how they interlock and correspond then there is so much pleasure to take from this recording. This one isn't about the overall impact of the music, or the laminal effects of layered sounds, its all about the interaction. [...]"-The Watchful Ear

This album has been reviewed on our magazine:

The Squid
The Squid's Ear!

Get additional information at The Watchful Ear

Artist Biographies

"John Russell got his first guitar in 1965 while living in Kent and began to play in and around London from 1971 onwards. An early involvement with the emerging free improvisation scene (from 1972) followed, seeing him play in such places as The Little Theatre Club, Ronnie Scott's, The Institute of Contemporary Arts, The Musicians' Co-Op and the London Musicians' Collective. From 1974 his work extended into teaching, broadcasts (radio and television) and touring in the United Kingdom and, ever extensively, in other countries around the world . He has played with many of the world's leading improvisers and his work can be heard on over 50 CDs and albums. In 1981, he founded QUAQUA, a large bank of improvisers put together in different combinations for specific projects and, in 1991, he started MOPOMOSO which has become the UK's longest running concert series featuring mainly improvised music."

-John Russell Website (

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Track Listing:

1. Track 01 6:50

2. Track 02 8:21

3. Track 03 7:40

4. Track 04 12:32

5. Track 05 10:03

Related Categories of Interest:

Improvised Music
European Improv, Free Jazz & Related
Stringed Instruments
London & UK Improv & Related Scenes
Free Improvisation
Duo Recordings
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