ALBERT BEGER / GERRY HEMINGWAY – There’s Nothing Better To Do

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Reading that this set was recorded during the musicians’ introductory encounter in Tel Aviv makes the “rehearsed” quality of their interaction all the more perplexing. On the contrary, There’s Nothing Better To Do represents a sort of quiet hymn to the positive stimulus given by the act of playing together, including the fine art of improvisational self-restraint and a few lighter moments that add value to the whole rather than diminishing it.

Both artists are renownedly combat-ready in areas whose propinquity to free jazz is indiscussible. However the feel conveyed by this conjunct language is one of urbane intelligence enriched by the kind of sensory faculty we anticipate from players at this level of skillfulness. In particular, I was struck by the way in which Beger embeds the tasteful timbre of his sax into Hemingway’s quasi-prosperous asymmetry by joining small melodic cells and prolonged notes replete with semi-cried multiphonics. A remarkable aspect lies in the duo’s natural ability of shooting the breeze and hit hard at once across antipodean dynamic regions, even inside the borders of a single episode. In “Let Go Of Your Mind” this happens in powerfully graphic fashion, the inability of keeping our feet unmoving a clear sign of the music’s walloping intensity along sustained barrages born from a calm serenity (and ultimately returning there, in bluesy mode).

Hemingway’s arresting work on the snare and the toms amidst a continuous fragmentation of the pulse characterizes the most vivacious sections (check the first part of “Missing You” as an example). His whistling in “Butterflies” accompanies Beger’s digressions with the same joyfulness of a kid who leaves the path leading to the school to happily run between the flowers and the bushes in a nearby garden after having thrown the books away. Yet another illustration of the variety of moods and cheerful willingness to experiment pervading this unpretentiously excellent release.

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