Urs Leimgruber

Wing Vane

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Some albums you need to give time, a chance to grow on you. Wing Vane falls into this category. Saxophonist Urs Leimgruber, pianist Jacques Demierre, and bassist Barre Phillips have recorded a free improv session dominated by the quietness of whispers and the violence of restraint. Listened to in a distracted manner, it sounds like a random aggregate of sounds, completely unrelated to each other -- when there is sound at all! You need to turn up the volume, pay close attention to the minute details, and experience the moments of silence for what they are: gut-wrenching artistic decisions. For an improviser, to consciously decide not to play -- to let silence fill the room and abdicate one's power over it -- is a gesture more meaningful than what listeners usually think. Listen to this CD once. A few days later listen again. You'll find it will offer you something slightly different from what you remembered. Repeat the experience: Again, you will discover new details, new feelings too. A record that teaches you how to listen to music is something to treasure. This kind of free improvising, focused on the subtle and understated, has become more widespread early in the first decade after 2000. What sets this trio apart is the fact that the musicians did not make a religion out of it. Occasionally, Leimgruber's sax produces soaring notes or enters a very busy phase. At certain times, Demierre drops rock-heavy clusters on the piano, driving an impressive crescendo in "Organically Yours." Yet, these moments don't aim at startling you; they flow naturally. Hearing Phillips in such a setting, decidedly more abstract than usual, is a pleasure. Recommended as an acquired taste.

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