Massimo Falascone

Bordogna — 15 (Quasi) Solo Improvisations
Takla / TAKLA1

Massimo Falascone /saxophones, tugombuto, Leonardo Falascone / objects, one track only

Falascone plays exactly as you would imagine, given that his stated influences include Heironymous Bosch, Varese, Paul Klee, Monty Python, Donald Duck and Dracula. His is a big, charismatic voice which is hard at first to pin down; one minute blustering, and the next as delicate and controlled as Lacy (another influence in his extravagantly long list). This disc collects seven solo performances, six overdubs and one duet with his five-year-old son Leonardo.

On alto, Falascone has a style which leaves all the corners and lumpy bits intact. His sour tone negotiates a series of angular gestures, often with a querelous awkwardness that belies their underlying elegance. Mixing extended with more conventional techniques, at its core his sound has a melodicism which brings intervallic patterns around again and again within each piece. There, perhaps, is the Klee comparison: think of those almost childish shapes, held together by a rigorous theory of colour.

His baritone growls and wuffles like a hungry hippo, but that same compelling gawkiness remains. On sopranino — an instrument one hears increasingly these days, which is no bad thing — he has the opposite tendency, a more note-based approach with less abstract gestures, less odd angles to stub one’s toe against. It’s the MC Escher to his baritone’s grotesque Bosch, if you will. In any event, it’s easy to hear these two strata in any of the solo pieces, distributed differently according to the instrument in his hands. While his alto is perhaps the best example of this style, his sopranino playing is particularly praiseworthy. It has a Braxtonian quick-wittedness which, married to his taste for the dramatic gesture, surprises at regular intervals.

The overdubs are an odd choice for a player like this. They do work, but in a strange sort of way. You see, Falascone decided not to listen back to the other tracks while overdubbing — in other words, he flew blind, and any appearance of “interaction” between the parts is purely coincidental (or has its roots in a trick of the memory). Being a linear player, Falascone tends to produce two or three independent lines which develop quite separately. Listening to them is something of a perceptual challenge — again, one might be reminded of Escher — but not an unpleasant one. The duet with little Leonardo is surprising for the fact that it works just fine. He’s not a sophisticated drummer, but I’ve heard much worse. A nice showcase for an engaging player (I mean Falascone Senior, of course). Richard Cochrane