Thursday, June 10, 2010

Steve Baczkowski, Baritone Firebrand II: Aqua Machine

A while ago (see earlier posting) we took a look at Steve Baczkowski in duet with Ravi Padmanabha, drummer and percussion adept. Today, another. Viz: a series of live performances from several venues selected and sequenced onto the interesting limited edition CD-Rom Aqua Machine (Qbico 51).

Both Steve and Ravi shift to various instruments from piece to piece in a free improv outing that has power and grace in equal quantities. Ravi plies and coaxes the conventional drum kit with barrages and essays in sound color, and also plays some appropriate tattoos on a frame drum, the gopichand, tabla and small instruments. Steve goes from baritone to slide bass clarinet, and on to the tenor, a homemade clarinet and the bamboo flute.

Baczkowski has that big, timbrally complex sound on bari and tenor and gets some very nice improvisations going. His playing is free-form yet has a logic musically. Ravi Padmanabha gives back as much as he takes in, providing a rather ideal foil to Steve's outbursts and getting quiet and subtle with him when that is on the agenda.

Not everything on this disk is essential, The jawharp-vocal interlude does not seem especially profound. It is a short part of the set though and one must expect a few moments of tentativeness in the free improvisational event.

This disk may or may not be in print (it is several years old) but it is worth searching for. Aqua Machine gives you a worthy introduction to the duo. Bravo!

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