Jeff Kaiser & Ernesto Diaz-Infante

Pith Balls and Inclined Planes
Pfmentum / CD005

Jeff Kaiser / trumpet, flugelhorn, electronics, voice, Ernesto Diaz-Infante / guitar, voice

Jeff Kaiser samples and manipulates his own trumpet and Diaz-Infante’s impressive guitar to create stunning, very contemporary music at the very outer edge of acid jazz. No, it isn’t entirely jazzy, and you assuredly can’t dance to it, but the electronic ambiance, coupled with Kaiser’s fragile melodies, lend it a certain funky swing which isn’t obvious straiht off but which catches up with you after a while.

Take “The unreasonable power of the diagrams”; Kaiser’s flugelhorn comes onlike he’s taking a solo in Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, while Diaz-Infante’s percussive playing gives the whole thing a kind of unpulsed undulation, the kind of swing which improvised music really thrives on. On “My machines came from too far away”, Kaiser sounds like and Diaz-Infante just goes wild; wonderfully exciting stuff.

There are exceptions: “Once (and it was not yesterday)” isdedicated to Nancarow and, like all things edicated to Nancarrow, it collages accelerated piano samples (from Diaz-Infante’s excellent Solus) in imitation of the dedicatee’s piano-rolls. A slower middle section is all too brief (how brave it would have been to do the whole piece like this) but the whole is satisfying enough. On the other hand, “Puny demigods on stilts” and “Outside, three tennis courts” sound like live duo improvisations, and whether it is or not, they’re lovely pieces of music, especially the former.

Kaiser has both a strong voice as a musician and a srong musical conception, two things which don’t always come together. Finding Diaz-Infante to work with must have been a pleasure, as his guitar-playing is full of verve and always surprising. Here, it’s almost entirely percussive — knocking n the wood, striking the strings with drumsticks and so on — but thre’s a real personality here, and a proper guitarist lurks audibly within. Recommended. Richard Cochrane