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 Review archive:  # a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

Jürg Frey - Echo.Trio.Fragile.Eyot [New Wave Of Jazz - 2020]

Echo.Trio.Fragile.Eyot is a selection of four highly minimal modern compositions works from Swiss composer and clarinettist Jürg Frey. The pieces here utilizes both skeletal & sparse instrumentation, often slow pacing, silence & pause- to create thoughtful, at times moody works that flit between lulling repetition, spaced atmospherics, and even the occasional more jarring & subtly playful moment.

The seventy-four minute CD appears on New Wave Of Jazz the Belgium label who put out improv, & avant-to- modern composition releases. As with all this labels releases the CD is presented in their identical house style mini gatefold which features grey boxes with white text on the front & back, and inside text write-up about the composer/ and or players, and the work to hand.

The four works are evenly split between sound installation works & stand-alone composition- each of the four tracks falls between sixteen & twenty minutes, and due to often very sparse & spaced layout of the works; one often feels you are adrift in a timeless sonic space. 

First up we have 2009 sound installation “Paysage D’echos” this is the longest track here at just over the twenty-minute mark – and it’s a curious opener because there’s almost a subtle playful/ quirky edge to it. The track finds Frey playing a mixture of harmonica, melodica & piano- these are laid in slow 'n' spaced patterns- either spread out as overlaying hovers, simmer sustains, or revered darts. The very subtle playful edge comes from the lulling & swaying harmonica elements, which gives a feeling lulling whimsicality- though the piano & melodica grounds the whole thing in a more moody territory.


Next, we have 1997 “Streuchtrio” this composition slides in at just shy of the twenty-minute mark- and here we have a blend of Violin- played by Angharad Davies, Viola- played by Johnny Chang, and Violoncello by Stefan. And for this track things are very much about slowly dragged ‘n’ hovering string tones- that are pulled out into often sour slicing/ grating simmers.  Of the four tracks here this is my least favourite- as it never seems to fully develop into anything wholly captivating- with the extended use of silencing & spacing feel frustrating instead of interesting, as none of the tones seem to develop or create much atmosphere.


Track number three is 2014 “Equilibre Fragile”- this eighteen-minute thirteen-second track finds Frey playing bird pipes. Once again it’s very much about waving, at times seesawing tones, that Frey lays out into a sour & wonky whistling haze that’s rather effective, and bittersweet in its feel.

Lastly we 2004’s "Eyot"- and this slides in at sixteen minute and fifty-second mark. This is just for solo piano played by Antonio Correa, and I’d say it's my favorite of the four works here. The piece structure moves between stark rising notation, and doomy lower strikes- between these we get wonderful moody pregnant pauses, which both build anticipation & atmosphere in a most rewarding manner.


As a release Echo.Trio.Fragile.Eyot is very much at the sparse ‘n’ spaced side of minimal modern composition. All four works need the listener to slow down & let the works drift over them; it’s all about concentration, memory & sly moodiness. To pick up a copy direct, or hear samples of the tracks head to the labels Bandcamp here.

Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5

Roger Batty
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