Label/Year: Clean Feed, 2017
Lineup - Samo Salamon: guitar; Achille Succi: bass clarinet; Julian Arguelles: tenor saxophone; Pascal Niggenkemper: bass; Roberto Dani: drums; Christian Lillinger: drums.
Slovenian guitarist Samo Salamon has been consistent and stimulating throughout a career made of multiple interesting collaborations. More inclined to innovate rather than keep the tradition alive, Salamon has shown what he’s capable of in albums like Kei’s Secrets (2006) and Government Cheese (2007), and more recently with his bassless trios on Little River (2015) and Unity (2016).
On his first recording for Clean Feed, The Colours Suite (recorded live at the Ljubljana Jazz Fest), he plunges deep into experimentation, becoming immersed in the intoxicating waters of avant-garde with the help of talents such as old time associates Achille Succi on bass clarinet, Julian Arguelles on tenor sax, and Roberto Dani on drums, and new rhythm mates Pascal Niggenkemper on bass and Christian Lillinger also on drums.
“Yellow” was the chosen color to open the suite, and does it bluntly. It starts with the enthusiastic colloquy presented by guitar, clarinet, and tenor, in which a specific phrase serves as the main idea for communication. An endless, fidgety rhythm becomes the perfect vehicle for Salamon’s guitar noise before the reeds take over and wrap up with unfussy counterpoint.
What can you expect from “Black”? Darker hues in his palette, great unisons, a transitional passage filled with irregular pointillism and acerbic phrasing dispensed at high speed, as well as call-response movements on top of jittery drumming inflections. Solo percussion ends the adventure.
“Green” brings more enigmas to the puzzle. Beautifully layered, it’s the kind of tune that you never know what to expect as it keeps playing with your emotions. During the casual, leisurely-paced first section, both Succi and Arguelles prowl with circumspection, colliding once in a while with stylish graciousness. The middle section is far more obscure, resorting to bowed bass drones, extended trills, and contrasting flutters of many kinds. The band reactivates the groove for the finale.
Salamon’s openness to different sounds transpires on “Red”, an atmospheric invention charged with individual flourishes, and “Blue”, where we find him soloing with no harmonic concern on top of an atmospheric hum formulated by the horn players. This latter tune ends in a vibrating outcry stirred by a guitar ostinato, syncopated drumming, and fractious horn unisons.
“Brown” is another stimulant and well-orchestrated post-bop piece turned into a boisterous free jazz dance. Succi’s untamed bass clarinet stands out, gradually inflaming the double drums and driving the rest of his bandmates to a hype collective upheaval.
The Colours Suite means Salamon embracing a total freedom, as we have never seen him doing before. The result is thought-provoking, powerfully complex, and immensely creative.
01 – Yellow ► 03 – Green ► 06 – Brown