Duh: In Just (2011)
The method of free improvisation kind of guarantees the sound of surprise in a way that few other musical strains do. While the primacy of the moment and the players' responses in it and to it are the prime motivations for the music this will always be the case. This makes the idea of trying to define just what governs the success of the resulting music a slippery notion, but however it might be pinned down, In Just falls very much on the positive side.
That sounds like faint praise, but it would be difficult to try and define just what it is about such intensely inscrutable music which holds the attention even though it does so with interest. This ensures that the small sounds at the opening of "spring" are compelling in themselves, not so much the next best thing to silence as the result of an understanding of that elusive quality; viola and cello seem to have the effect of coming together, only to draw apart quickly, sounding as if they're motivated by mutual distrust.
Despite the fact that it doesn't immediately follow "spring," "goat-footed" could be the other side of the same coin. The strings are again capricious enough to suggest the similarly string-oriented version of the Spontaneous Music Ensemble before drummer Martin Blume sounds like a man trying to impose order. As the music progresses reed man Frank Gratkowski, on clarinet, lays claim to territory on its periphery, but such is the primacy of that moment that, again, the resulting tension is quickly dissipated.
Of course, "hop-scotch" suggests something more playful than the reality of the music, at least at first. Gratkowski teases out a meandering line to which violist Szilard Mezel adheres before taking wing, but received notions have only tangential relevance. This is hardly surprising given the music's fearsome individuality.
Track Listing: In Just; spring; balloon man; mud-luscious; hop-scotch; jump-rope; far and wee; goat-footed.
Personnel: Frank Gratkowski: alto sax; clarinet, bass clarinet; Szilard Mezel: viola; Albert Markos: cello; Martin Blume: drums, percussion.
Record Label: Red Toucan Records