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John Tilbury & Bertrand Gauguet - CONTRE-COURBES [Akousis Records - 2021]

CONTRE-COURBES is a wonderful example of creative and varied impro. The release brings together two respected improviser- we have English pannist   John Tilbury and French Saxophonists Bertrand Gauguet. The two-disc CD set features two long slices of improv, highlighting the pair as both talented players and inventive improvisers.

The two CD’s are presented in a thick six-panel mini gatefold- this features a lo-key grey, yellow and white colour scheme. The first disc takes in a live set from 2016, and the second disc from 2019, with both live recordings been captured with great in clarity and depth- with both the piano and Alto sax balanced well in the mix. And really like the best live recordings you’d be hard pushed to identify it’s a live recording, for much of either discs playtime.

The first discs set was recorded in April 2016 at Église Saint-Maximin, Metz France. The track/ set runs at just over the forty two minute mark- it opens with unsurely darting and reverb key runs, which move between high ‘n’ deep bounds- these are surrounded by bowing/ wavering feedback tones, which sound more guitar like than Sax based.  As we move on we go from blends of stretched and deep warbling-to-simmering high pitch honks, that surround by jagged & blunt high-end key stabs. Onto hauntingly bobbing key patterns, and atmospheric tone bays.  Through forlorn and slurred key notation, that’s topped warblingly angularity and sliding horn grain.  This is very much improv that slurs, blurs, and hazers its way along- through some rewarding interplays.

The second discs set was recorded in Festival Paysages d’Écoute, Les Quinconces in November 2019. This track runs the slightly longer forty -three minutes and once again is a varied and rewarding improv journey. We move from uneasy mid-ranged- key patterns & atmospheric horn feedback burns, onto wailing sour horn meets taut & high key darts, through compressed grainy horn bubbling’s blend with tight jittering key play. 

If you enjoy eventful-yet-spaced out improv, which flits between atmosphere and textural play/ invention , I really think you’ll find CONTRE-COURBES most rewarding. I do hope these two work together down the line again, as they bounce off each other well- each adding their considerable talents to the mix to create a most worthy double CD album.

Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5

Roger Batty
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