Besides being, if memory doesn’t betray, the second duo album by reedist Gilad Atzmon and pianist Hubert Bergmann, 2019’s Outside The BOX represents the epitome of an encounter between free thinkers, an endangered species of men unaffected by stupid dogmas and whose mind is not subdivided in watertight compartments. Both musicians have had a fair share of problems in keeping up the banner of intellectual freedom, their ideas frequently clashing with the driven factionalism of certain cliques of ignorant intelligentsia. As any respectable musician, Atzmon and Bergmann hold a fundamental arrow in the quiver: the improvisational brilliance needed to project the deeper self towards an audience without wasting words.
The irony of some of the track titles (how about “Depussy”?) is deceptive, for this music can be in turn impassioned, vehement, pensive, geometrically awkward. Atzmon’s tenor sax and clarinet symbolize a direct, no-nonsense voice, capable of producing instant reports from the realms of spiritual turmoil rarely illuminated by the light of veritable serenity. That is, unless one considers the “inner light” guiding instrumentalists connected with what’s impossible to grasp for the babblers of the non-existent. The propensity to conceive metaphorical linear designs for the purpose of a given moment is perhaps the main feature in Atzmon’s expressive form. His formidable technique always remains at the service of an often wounded heart; that rational melancholy is still strong enough to defeat the arrogance of untruthfulness.
We have known Bergmann for over a decade now, and have repeatedly praised him; our views haven’t changed a iota. His pianism is at once considered and changeable, transitioning from a state of evolved quietness to a mercurially cultured dissonance delineating the now reflective, now hyperactive mind of an extremely sensitive man. The way Bergmann circles, questions, caresses, and supports Atzmon’s evolutions suggests a fusion of iron logic and romanticism of the purest kind. What is manifested in the guise of contrapuntal intuition comes to be the switch for serendipitous harmonic insights, which may last ten seconds or several minutes as the listener becomes endowed with various possibilities of interpretation. Because only through an effective comprehension one can hope in logical responses and constructive dialogues.
On the contrary, the current portrait of humanity corresponds to a depressing cauldron of self-centered soliloquies passed off as “collectivity”. We must persevere in decoding the truly essential signals, in a desperate attempt to stay outside of that horrible box as well.