Friday, February 28, 2014

Blaise Siwula, Merida Encuentro (Merida Swings)

Blaise Siwula, reed master of free music. . . we've usually associated him with New York City in years past. He has however been spending some time down in Merida, Mexico and has hooked up with some good players there. Merida Encuentro (nfm 004) gives us a CD of free encounters of the ear-enriching kind, a rewarding result of the confluence of new and culturally diverse combinations that can happen when everybody opens up and listens.

The first several cuts feature Blaise on clarinet and alto and Armando Martin on acoustic guitar. "Para Django" starts things off with a kind of swing extension of outness, of course paying tribute to Django Reinhardt in the process. More abstracted duets follow, with "Sin Tiempo" giving us a first climax via prepared and unprepared guitar that goes from Bailey-esque flights to Latin classical to jazz chording to sung-played expressive lining while Blaise makes a cohesive statement on clarinet.

Armando switches to electric guitar for "Disenos" and drummer Edgar Caamal joins the group to make it a trio for the rest of the set. The dynamic remains free and open form. Edgar's brushed drums make us feel a little more like we are back in New York, but Armando on electric quickly turns up and gets us into a more watted avant abstraction that has an exploded free-rock feel as Edgar switches to sticks. Blaise turns up the intensity on alto and gets the max out of the two-lined simultaneous soloing.

The mood continues with Armando back on acoustic and Blaise catching alto fire. A longer, softer "Suave" brings back clarinet, brushes and acoustic for what starts out as a kind of free ballad with a lazy bluesiness in there as Blaise channels some tradition into his own world with smooth ease but pointed strength. It comes to climax, then gets quiet and moody again.

The finale, "Fuera", substitutes Alvar Canto Torres on electric guitar. He is more into a metallic, psychedelic, high-voltage sound with guitar feedback, power drones and edgy lines that give Blaise something else to work against. Blaise glides and slithers along with it while Edgar continues free drum barrages but also interjects intermittent pauses to change the texture of the momentum.

In the end we get another way free can roll. Blaise is in great form and his fellow travellers add dimensions and dynamics that keep it all interesting. This is a successful first outing with lots of modes and moods. I look forward to what else they will do in future.

Listen and you'll hear the sound of pure invention!

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