absence |cs034








































Then onto the trios, of which the first one has the well-known Axel Dörner (trumpet), Leonel Kaplan (trumpet) and Diego Chamy (percussion). As this was recorded (in 2003) in Buenos Aires, Argentinia, I have reasons to believe that Kaplan and Chamy are from Argentina. This is top of new improvisation. Dörner continues to explore his techniques of trumpet playing, which has nothing to do with the trumpet as such, but everything with the instrument as an object and Leonel Kaplan proofs to be a good student (assuming of course it's not Dörner who nicked the technique!) and the percussion of Chamy can be anything that has a surface to hit. Very intense playing by all three players on board and an even more demanding release that the previous highlight of this bunch. Frans de Waard (Vital)

Ferreous spots of swiftness in contrast with rusted kitchenware smelling of gunpowder; silence lurking amidst the gurgles of tonal renegation, while stretching harmonics and patches of instrumental encroachment agitate the sleep of an already resigned mechanical soul. Speculating about the undesirable parts of what once we called an instrumental lexicon, Dörner and Kaplan keep their valves in constant dire trouble, plunderers of hot air to be resold as gaseous tightroping. Chamy oversees these hobbling conversations while trying to be kind and smiling - only, his percussion array has no front teeth to flash, which makes his metallic sibilance even more specific. This peculiar association of silent skeptics falsifies the banknotes of pally improvisation, evidencing once again that joining someone does not necessarily mean that you must wear a fancy dress. Massimo Ricci (Touching Extremes)

One of the most esteemed performers in contemporary improvisation, trumpet Axel Dörner is here portrayed in a live in studio recording which took place in Buenos Aires in 2003. His accomplices are Leonel Kaplan (trumpet) and Diego Chamy (percussion): the former uses his instrument pretty much in a Dörner-like style, so that their frantic blowing, hisses and crackles make for intense duets, while Chamy punctuates the performance with sparse, but loud banging on unidentified percussions (probably bare metal pieces). If you're already familiar with Dörner’s improvisation tecniques, this disc won't take you by surprise, but it will be a nice add anyway; otherwise, it could be a good starting point. Eugenio Maggi (Chain DLK)

Absence (CS 034) features a trio consisting of trumpeters Axel Dörner and Leonel Kaplan joined by percussionist Diego Chamy. Recorded on a visit to Buenos Aires in March 2003, this isn’t the strongest thing I’ve heard from Dörner. But the trumpeters get into some excellently crackling, gurgling spaces that recall this label’s fine Abu Tarek. For example, long flatulence begins “n’thas” before that piece empties out appealingly into a chorus of whispers; and harsh, speaker-shredding noise is mimicked on “asn’th”. This stuff will clearly delight fans of post-Bill Dixon trumpet playing. Chamy, new to me, is a gifted colorist and creates a number of effects which sound electronic (he’s clearly been studying Burkhard Beins). Low eddies, swirls, and whooshes predominate (particularly on the opening “thasn’”), occasionally peaking during moments that suggest growling animals waiting to strike, almost as if angered by the listener. The best piece is saved for last, as the music swings between long silences or rests and hideously buckling metal noises. The disc meanders just a bit, but certainly has some fine moments. Jason Bivins (One Final Note)

A number of different, coincidental elements brought me to write about the music I have been playing tonight. The trio of Axel Dorner, Leonel Kaplan and Diego Chamy recorded their album for Creative Sources named Absence way back in 2003, and the disc was released not that long after, which is when I bought my copy. Then recently, as I have written about the two Chamy/Dorner duo albums that have appeared over recent months, Diego sent me a further copy of Absence, not realising I already owned it. I added it to the list of items to write about, noting to give away the extra copy I now have to an interested reader. Then a few days back I heard from Leonel Kaplan, who, following my posts about Bhob Rainey’s bandcamp site from where he sells digital downloads, also pointed me to his similar site, which includes some additional recordings by the trio that made Absence.

When exchanging a few emails with Leonel, he mentioned that it might be interesting to hear how the same trio sounded on different occasions in different settings. The album itself was recorded in an Argentine studio, but the additional tracks made available capture the group live at a French festival, and also out in a forest, playing amongst nature. Following the recent online discussions that have been taking place about the current “state” of improvised music this lead me to think more about the nature of improvisation, and in particular the notion of it existing beyond a recording intended for a CD release. Too often, particularly in online circles improvised music is judged by what appears on commercial releases, when actually only a small portion of what goes on ever makes it onto a disc. The additional recordings here capture further meetings by the trio that weren’t really intended for release, but have been shared by the musicians as an illustration of what they were up to in different locations and settings rather than as polished musical statements. That’s fine by me.

For me personally, improvisation is as interesting and exciting as ever, but increasingly I am interested in the social and philosophical elements of the practice, almost as much as I am the actual music, or at least the music released on CD. Hearing three recordings made of the same group in three quite different scenarios is an interesting experience in itself, irrespective of how the music might sound. Of course CDs matter, and matter a lot, but increasingly their position as the definitive statement on the music of any one set of musicians is becoming increasingly less interesting. As it has become possible via technology for musicians to issue substantial documentation of their meetings, or to play around wildly with track lengths, or in the case of the Absence trio, to present various versions of the music recorded under different conditions, the need then for musicians to produce forty minutes of perfect material for a CD release is lessened, and their exploration and collaboration in itself becomes of great interest, the act of improvising becomes something far more than a means to an end.

So the original Creative Sources album by the trio is a bristling, busy affair made up of the two trumpets (Dorner and Kaplan) and Chamy’s simple, stripped-down percussion. It is mostly made up of textural, noteless extended technique, with the two trumpets hard to pick apart, with only the occasional signature sound from Dorner giving away who is who. It isn’t the hushed, quiet affair that the 2003 recording date might suggest, with the three musicians really wrapping their sounds in and out of one another, building a thoroughly satisfying, muscular bundle of writhing, energetic music. I will never know, having already been familiar with the CD, but I suspect that if I had come to this release cold, without knowing anything about when it was recorded I would not have thought it was seven years old. Such is one of the joys of improvised music,- no matter how we try and pin dates on particular styles and developments within the music it can still sound fresh so many years later.

If you purchase the digital version of Absence from Leonel’s bandcamp site (or even if you don’t) you can also download at no extra cost the two additional tracks that I have been listening to tonight. Musique Quotidiane Sonore is a half hour long piece of music that takes its name from the French Festival it was recorded at way back in 2004. Here the trio sound looser than in the studio, lighter, freer and also quite wildly aggressive, all perhaps highlighting a sense of immediacy in the music that didn’t feel so obvious on the more formal recording. At one point all three musicians play quite abrasively, with the second trumpet suddenly bursting all over the music as the first roars away, taking a percussive role itself, scattering shards of metallic attack all over the place. While the differences are obviously quite refined, there is a feeling of more freedom in the live recording (which has also been superbly captured by Chamy’s careful use of microphones)

The recording made in the forest is just a little over thirteen minutes in length, and has been expertly recorded by Jean Pallandre using careful microphone placements. The most obvious of these presents us with a continually flowing river in the foreground, loud and taking on a kind of almost white noise feel, into which the trio play their music. For the majority of the time the musicians improvise alongside and into the river sounds, matching the grey roar of the running water with breathy trumpet, or layering extended grainy sounds alongside. near the end Chamy breaks the music up with a series of immediate chiming bells, so lifting the music out of its thin palette of roaring black and whitea nd adding pin pricks of colour.

The three recordings then work very well when heard one after the other. The music sounds carefully structured and balanced in the studio recording, a sense of precision and craftsmanship is there, but also perhaps a gentle edge of safety-first can be heard. While in places, particularly in the fourth and final track things do get a bit boisterous, the energy in the music is generally held at a consistent point, and there is no anger in the album. The live recording, while possibly containing a little less variety in terms of the breadth of sounds utilise has a sharper, almost nastier edge as the music regularly builds into more aggressive moments. The outdoors recording sounds very different again, much more refined, using a drastically reduced palette, gentler and calmer, as the surroundings in which it was recorded may have dictated. Here the music seems to be more about finding its place alongside the natural sounds, balancing the music rather than pushing it on hard.

All three pieces are fine examples of acoustic trio improvisation that don’t sound like they belong to any particular historical era. Being able to listen to so much material by the same musicians like this is very rewarding, as mapping the progress of the trio when playing in different surroundings is an intriguing thing to do. Of the three pieces of music I think I prefer the live recording, the ‘anything-goes’ energy of that track outweighing the more balanced precision of the studio recording in my opinion, with the outdoor recording showing us something different again.

So, old recordings but well worth revisiting in my opinion. Being a musician based in South America, the currency imbalances he faces trying to sell music on CD back into Europe make it hard for him to ever sell many copies. The medium of the paid download then make things much easier, and so I would encourage anyone interested to buy a recording or two from the bandcamp site. If you buy the Absence album (or actually even if you don’t) then the extra tracks come free, so that would be a good place to start. Richard Pinnell (The Watchful Ear)