Shapes and Shadows
Much has been said about the art of the improvising trio since the triangular interaction between Ornette Coleman, David Izenzon, and Charles Moffett. Now Martin Speicher, Georg Wolf, and Lou Grassi contribute another chapter to that long tradition. “Shapes and Shadows” is a wonder of musical integration of three diverse personalities investing all their energy in a common purpose. It is proof that real collective music is possible. This is structured improvisation, explorative, agitated, surprising, and yet always maintaining focus. German alto saxophonist / clarinetist Speicher has a composer’s sensibility throughout that injects a “classical” contemporary feel in these tracks, even in the freest moments, at times resembling Peter Brotzmann’s excursions. There’s some sort of telepathy between Speicher and bassist Wolf, the fruit of their long-time collaboration in several settings. But Grassi isn’t left on his own. It’s remarkable how the American drummer sustains motion and makes himself a fundamental part in everything. He acts and reacts, and you can sense the two Europeans keeping an ear turned to his every move. Expressionist and abstract, this is music of the first order, as dense as a lava river and as complex as a mathematical equation, yet inviting us to come a board with the seduction of a natural phenomenon.