There is a great deal of space for electric guitarist Scott Fields and tenor saxophonist Matthias Schubert to fill on this recent duo outing.
Clean Feed offers this description on their site: “In the Minaret Minuets system there are two separate but equal branches: the electric guitar and the tenor saxophone. Composer slash instrumentalists — those roles smear — Scott Fields and Matthias Schubert find myriad methods to blend and contrast, to appear to be at one moment a larger ensemble and then to sound as just one.”
I do not think I could have composed a better summation of the music within — the tracks feel organically grown and composed by the spontaneous reactions between the musicians, running the gamut from tiny sounds produced by the acoustics surrounding the instruments to playing at their extremes. Without the grounding of bass or percussion and sans any traditional song structure, all emphasis is shifted to the musician’s interplay and sonic atmosphere.
For example, there is a passage about halfway into the extended “Willie’s Billy Beer” where the guitar melody skitters over light saxophonic flatulence. So intimate, barely making a sound, the woodwind’s breathiness provides just enough subtle support for the delicate melody. Soon, everything from key clicks to short snippets of melody from the sax begin interacting with string scratches and muted pickings. It’s the textures of sound bouncing off each other that make such sparse moments so effective. Their approach seems to capture emotions and subconscious thoughts more than overt statements.
But all is not calm, while there are great expanses of ruminative rambling, there are also moments of rambunctious raucousness. The 7-minute “Multi Trill” begins exhilaratingly — all skronk und drang — but eventually settles into a more lyrical flow. “Santa on a Segway” has moments of sweetness and synergy where the rhythms and tones between the two players meld delightfully.
This is a long recording — clocking in around the 75 minutes mark and while it takes some determination to sit through the whole event, it takes its time to unfold and contains many interesting passages that make it worth the listen. At any one point the guitar may be laying down a rhythmic single note figure and then drop in some chords while the sax bounces melodic figured off the morphing structures, then the roles may shift or transform into other shapes and sounds.
This is a conversation that never ends — it’s one held in music and while there may be lulls and heated moments, there is no time when the ideas dry up. four stars — Free Jazz Blogspot
According to Scott Fields’ website, this recording with Elliot Sharp, Afiadacampos, came out in 2010, which on the cusp of 2012, makes me a little more than fashionably late. Apologies for my tardiness, however, I am pleased to report the music has not aged a bit. I think the first thing that stuck out to me on this recording is just how nicely recorded the steel string acoustic guitars sound.
Since they are rather indistinguishable sonically, the separation is done via left and right channel making this a nice album to listen to via the headphones. The sound swirls and coalesces in time and space, sometimes disorientingly, sometime soothingly. Typically a guitar duo, which is a favorite configuration of mine, relies on a division between melodic, rhythmic and harmonic functions, in varying combinations. Here, the duties seem split melodic/melodic, harmonic/texture, texture/melodic, basically everything but what you may expect.
The songs are reactions and cerebral conversations between the guitarists. Just to take one song at random, say, “I Love Not Green Eggs” apart, one would hear every aforementioned interaction, with sharp melodic cluster bouncing off string scrapes and defiant low register plucks. Almost classical passages sit atop randomness. This is the un-formula of each improvisation.
If there is a complaint to lodge, it would be that about half-way through the recording that the improvizations begin to blend into each other. However, just in time, the tracks “Delta Delta” and “Sun Figtree” negates that criticism as vigorous rhythms and knotty textures are effectively deployed. It all works to create a rather interesting and provocative set of acoustic explorations.
This is something I’d recommend to listeners who are adventurous, thirsty for something different, and appreciate the many sounds of the steel string acoustic guitar. Four stars. — Free Jazz Blogspot
From the opening notes of 'Bagsant' you can hear that you are in for a guitar heavy treat. With at least 12 electrified strings between Sharp and Fields, they choose play a single note figure basically differentiated only by the tone of their guitars - the left side is fuzzier. Small changes make all the difference until their lines diverge and the song opens up. 'Denisova Stomp' features some rapid melodic lines and delicate intersections but then becomes quite heavy towards the end. The elements of the track are many and varied, changing textures and tones will swing from quiet to fearsome at the flick of a pick. This duo obvious chemistry is not without some history. I last checked in with Fields and Sharpe back in 2012 when I reviewed Afiadacampos, which is an acoustic effort. Either way, acoustic or electric, this is the work of two master musicians, who together create a fascinating world straddling composition and improvisation. — Free Jazz Blogspot