Urs Leimgruber

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Swiss-born Urs Leimgruber is one of the most exciting saxophonists in Europe because of his willingness to revisit past strategies in order to come up with new solutions. This recording, the third solo saxophone disc on which he plays tenor and soprano (others have included merely the alto), harkens back to the radical experimentation of Anthony Braxton on his Alto Saxophone Improvisations (1979) album on Arista and Roscoe Mitchell's L-R-G, The Maze & SII Examples double album on Nessa. The ten selections here are not improvisations based on tunes, scales, or sonorities, but on the mechanics and tonalities of the saxophone itself and how it enters, engages, and breaks apart the world of sound. Everything from playing the horn inside out, shortening tubing, and playing in vacuums is tried and tried again. This is an album of honking and squeaking to be surer, but it is also an album of sputtering and spitting, and even occasionally a few recognizable notes. Microphonics and microtonalism abound here, where one set of notes still hangs in the air and is pierced through by another set. This is saxophone music, saxophone sound, and saxophone language as experienced and expressed by a human heart. That Leimgruber has given himself over so thoroughly to the task of encountering the instrument on its terrain and in the larger context of the world is an enormous achievement.

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