Werner Lüdi

Bird Who Makes the Cloud Sing as He Drums It: Live at the Montreux Jazz Festival

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Recorded live at the Montreal Jazz Festival, this thunderous duet performance of improvisation by percussionist Burhan Öçal and alto saxophonist Werner Lüdi is one of those rare occasions when everything works right and there are no awkward phrases, lines, or soloing moments where the musicians are trying to find each other along the way. From the howling first moments of "Visa Monk Overdrive," with Öçal's dancing darbuka drum set, it's evident that there is real affinity here. He knows the pace; it's a pulse that traverses the snares and toms and makes offerings to the cymbals at the moment Lüdi enters the cyclical turnarounds and begins to move in outward circles with careening legato and angular arpeggios; these are meant to suggest the necessity of drums to root him to the moment rather than an attempt to escape into his own stratosphere. But it's not all a blowing session; there is amazing dynamic interplay here where tonal striations are complexly added to the sound-ribbon approach and even the hint of microtonal ambience in places, as on "The Wind Whales of Ishmael." On "Flow Motion" there is the impression that nuances aren't traded so much as underlined and extended, as Öçal extends his percussive reach to kettledrum, gongs, bells, and other elements à la Han Bennink. He makes the drums sing, which gives Lüdi the tonal possibilities he needs to construct elegant lines against those that screech and howl. It's a draining set, but an exhilarating one for the listener. This is one of the hottest saxophone percussion duets to hit the racks.

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