Touching Extremes review by Massimo Ricci

cf-136MICHAEL BLAKE / KRESTEN OSGOOD – Control This (CF 136)
“I am very proud of this album because when I hear the music, I hear how well we know each other”, writes drummer Kresten Osgood in the liners. A beautiful note of friendship to his partner in this duo, saxophonist Michael Blake (here on soprano, alto and tenor), both also members of Blake Tartare and active since many years, respectively, on the Copenhagen and New York scenes, collaborations including names of the calibre of Sam Rivers, Paul Bley and The Lounge Lizards. The extreme enjoyableness of Control This lies in the reciprocal will of constantly paying attention to what the counterpart has to say, finding every time a correct key to unlock the secrets of an ingenuity that’s often the most unadulterated source of expression in an art form that recurrently privileges selfishness over interplay.

In “Top Hat”, for example, Blake interprets a lyrical flow of linear materials ranging from melodically investigative to eloquently rigorous, his phrases breathing through Osgood’s subtly pervading, ever-attentive sinuousness. The latter commands our interest with an expert management of the dynamics, appearing like an extremely conscious percussionist whose lone interest is driving the comrade to reveal the physiology of the instrument while remaining in the realm of a pragmatic equanimity. “Cotton Mouth” begins with the artists treading parallel paths that after a few instants merge into a bundle of tortuous flurries and destroyed-and-reassembled patterns, in which – once more – we welcome a fine balance of rhythmic drive and intertwined precisions.

The record ends in total fun in a ghost track, a comical snapshot of the solid kinship between two musicians who just love playing, especially when they’re together – and not alone.

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