Fabio Martini

Takla / TAKLA3

Fabio Martini /clarinets, Tito Mangialajo Rantzer / bass, first half only, Domenico Sciajno / bass, electronics, second half only, Carlo Virzi / percussion, first half only, Ruggero Radaele / percussion, second half only

Two separate trio sets from one of Italy’s best-kept secrets, reed player Fabio Martini. His Circadiana Clangori of last year proved him to be an interesting composer for a medium-sized ensemble of improvisors; here we find him in a much more intimate, and more exposed, setting.

Martini is a lugubrious player with a slow, deliberate sense of development. He seems to enjoy letting his notes swell and grow. Unlike so many free reedsmen, he doesn’t feel the need to play fast and furious; his concern seems to be to keep the larger-scale musical movement underway, using long, langorous phrases. Not that his partners spend too much time filling in the details on either of these sessions; again, the emphasis is on thoughtful playing, not wild abandon.

Rantzer plays mostly with the bow, and his solo on “Effrazione” shows him to have a sinuous sound which is low on the rosiny squeak of so many bass players and high on — again — evolution and development. When he switches to pizzicato, it’s to provide a solid anchor in this mostly unpulsed music, landing squarely on the accents every time with a diamond-hard touch. Virzi’s contribution is so restrained as to seem almost odd at first. He seems to play individual beats, not riffs or fills; the result seems disjointed, and certainly isn’t articulated in any conventional way, but it works in this setting. Like moss growing in your driveway, this trio has an inevitable, organic working-out which seems possible exactly because it happens at such a careful pace.

The second trio has, of course, some things in common with the first; at least inasmuch as Martini is the leader, and his approach hasn’t changed a great deal. Radaele is, however, a much more ebullient percussionist than Virzi — not loud, just busy, making a noisy-but-subdued backdrop to Martini’s playing. Sciajno’s electronics help him out, too. This pair’s favoured method isn’t the single, isolated sound but the continuous scratch and rattle, out of which important things occasionally emerge.

The difference in approach is clear from the opening. Sciajno has more of a basis in extended techniques than Rantzer displays on the foregoing session, and the overall feel has more in common with other rhythm sections on the cusp of free improv and free jazz. Sciajno takes some very nice solos (on “The Red Tent”, especially) in which he really seems to revel in the bass’s bottom register. It’s not extremely hectic playing, but it’s distinctly more hectic that the first half of the disc, and the most obvious example is the wild (and short) “Popgun”, which sounds distinctly like a Parker/Lytton/Guy piece.

This is certainly a game of two halves, but there’s enough continuity of expression between the two to let them flow together as well as marking a join (there’s something Deleuzian in this) so as to prevent it from merely being broken-backed. Fifty seven minutes is nowhere near long enough to get tired of Martini’s ever-intelligent, almost discursive clarinet. The two rhythm sections give the disc an added degree of variety (and the device gives Takla a chance to show off more of its talent to us non-Italians) but either of these trios could have carried it off alone. More, please. Richard Cochrane