Gregorio, Giallorenzo Duo ~ Multiverse

multiverseImprovisation can be a bit hit and miss as it’s impossible to strike gold every time, no matter how gifted a performer you are. Improvising in performance heavily involves the audience’s response, whether they are aware of it or not, and – let’s be honest about it – not everybody appreciates watching a musician reach for inspiration, preferring something more rehearsed and well-oiled. Sometimes they just want melody, or failing that, repetition. But live improv works with a sympathetic audience because for a moment, we are part of the musician’s process. It’s often less successful when the live pieces are translated to disc, as what was a fleeting moment in performance is now presented to be played time and again and as such it frequently turns out to be a pale imitation of the initial experience.

Studio-bound improvisation is another beast altogether, of course, without the frisson of the live ambience that normally lifts the work, but with the opportunity to edit more cleanly and overdub if necessary. It’s a feature of Peira Records’ releases to document musicians together in the studio rather than the live environment and they’re building up an impressive roster of contributors from the Chicago jazz and improv scene.

Clarinettist Guillermo Gregorio is a regular on the label and here he pairs up with pianist Paul Giallorenzo, who has previously appeared in the Breakway group. The result is very engaging, with Giallorenzo’s prepared piano giving the duo the feel of a set of jazzier variations on John Cage’s Sonatas and Interludes, and Gregorio avoids the temptation (mostly) to explore the parps and whistles that some improvisors tend toward, but which often frightens off the agnostics. While the players are never tentative, they seem to get more relaxed the further on they go, maybe even swinging a little towards the end.

So Multiverse avoids the potential hazards and pitfalls of studio improv, with two musicians playing sympathetically off each other and keeping the pieces themselves brief and focussed; whether or not this is because they are initially that length or have been trimmed down from longer pieces I don’t know. In fact, the whole process remains an enigma which is really how it should be – it’s just a joy hearing two musicians step into the unknown and bring back some treasure. (Jeremy Bye)

Available here

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