Some Other Place
AGUSTI FERNANDEZ- PIANO
“We are the place in which we dwell.”
In a universe such as improvised music where, particularly in an ensemble, chance plays some kind of role, Agustí Fernández and Barry Guy did not by chance name this opus Some Other Place, paradoxical as it may seem at first sight. Much rather, it is a deliberate plight to give to this composition a title that brings up the notion of otherness, which is markedly present in both their careers. Many areas were scoured, at times under the command of one another or as third parties may dictate, and if all these worlds did have something in common then it would be this sense of quest, of adventure, of exploration of frontiers of musical forms, of eagerness to tauten a composition so as to distort it and, by extension, to transform it, to reach a threshold so remote from the starting point and yet implied from the outset. Never before did Agustí Fernández and Barry Guy choose to throw away the safety net as they do here, opening a sincere dialogue that subsumes so many years of shared musical experiments, leading a reflection on a form of art that — due to its ephemeral nature — is unrepeatable.
“Somos el lugar en el que estamos”
En un mundo como el de la música improvisada, donde, sobre todo en situaciones de conjunto, una suerte de azar desempeña un cierto papel, no obedece en absoluto a la casualidad, por paradójico que resulte a primera vista, que Agustí Fernández y Barry Guy hayan optado por bautizar este trabajo Some Other Place, pero más deliberado se antoja que hayan decidido apostar para el título por la composición que recoge una noción, la de alteridad, presente en la carrera de ambos. Muchos son los terrenos que han recorrido uno a las órdenes del otro o al dictado de terceros, y si algo comparten todos esos mundos es precisamente ese componente de búsqueda, de aventura, de exploración de las fronteras de las formas musicales, de afán por tensar una composición hasta deformarla y, por extensión, transformarla, de encontrar ese lugar distinto al punto de partida pero que ya estaba contenido en él. Nunca hasta ahora se habían decidido Agustí Fernández y Barry Guy a dar un salto sin red como este, un diálogo sincero que resume tantos y tantos años de música compartida, una reflexión sobre un arte que, precisamente por su carácter efímero, es irrepetible.
From the first notes, seasoned listeners of the music of Barry Guy and Agusti Fernández will understand that Sun Ra-esque title indicates territories not necessary associated with European Free Improvisation, even if both men have amply demonstrated their capacity to explore a word of nuances and evoke both the spirit of jazz past and the vitality of traditional musics from the world. This series of duets are not necessarily free improvisations; but use a mixture of precomposed material and open form, a technique that Barry Guy pioneered in his groundbreaking orchestra works. This allows the pieces to go back to fixed materials and specific passages, giving the music a special sharpness, a directness that does not deter from the freedom the musicians allowed to themselves. Guy and Fernández have been collaborating in different ensembles for about ten years now, and their musical conception is well-matched. The bassist is known for his mastery of the whole range of his instrument, from which he elicits unprecedented sounds, bringing it up to the violin range or phrasing like a guitar player, even if in this particular CD I have the impression that he plays less bow than usual. The pianist seamlessly integrates extended techniques in his playing, and can stimulate the strings via keyboard to produce classically styled, smooth sounds or attack them into percussive frenzy.
Pianist Agusti Fernandez and bassist Barry Guy are two great solo improvising musicians that have a rare talent to cooperate in music making, combining their talents for an ever greater sound. So the question is, why haven't they recorded a duet until now?
While Guy is well known for his large ensemble work as organizer of the London Jazz Composers' Orchestra and the Barry Guy Orchestra, he excels in the solo setting and in small group settings. Like Fernandez, his duos deserve special attention. Exceptional music has also been recorded with Gustafsson on Frogging (Maya, 1997), and with Parker on Obliquities (Maya, 1994).
The two have previously released Aurora (Maya, 2006), with Ramon Lopez, and Topos (Maya, 2007) with Parker and drummer Paul Lytton, and Fernandez played on the Barry Guy New Orchestra session, Oort-Entropy (Intakt, 2005).
This duo disc opens with confident, reverberating notes from both players, feeling like flat stones tossed onto a pond—each skipping, all the while making tiny reverberations on the water. The pair then delves into a little swing before hammering squared notes into disjointed round boxes. The contrasting stillness, broken by the aural ferocity is often repeated, as the pair draws from an ugly beauty and beautiful ugliness to great effect. When they break from their struggles, their liaison produces elegance. Guy's "Blueshift (for M.H.)" presents an atmospheric ballad of ineffable beauty; the lingering notes are prayers and meditations, contrasted with the immediacy and electricity of "Boomerang Nebula" and "Rosette," with its bowed notes and piano pummeling designed to unsettle any space.
By Mark Corroto
Hay músicas que le roban a uno el alma, el corazón y la vida. Músicas que le enamoran a la primera oída y no hay modo de explicar porque el corazón tiene razones que la razón no entiende. Ocurre cuando los sonidos cobran una presencia física independiente de quien los genera, entonces uno más uno no suman dos. Como en Some other place.
Chema García Martínez