Samo Salamon

Ela's Dream

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Slovenian electric guitarist Samo Salamon is a young jazz modernist very influenced by Ornette Coleman's harmelodic and approximate note theories. On this concert date in Ljubljana, Salamon's sextet plays drawn-out extended pieces based on a certain amount of arrangement, but basically are vehicles for strong improvising and blowing. American alto saxophonist Dave Binney joins Salamon's European friends -- alto saxophonist and especially bass clarinetist Achille Succi, the excellent bassist Paolino Dalla Porta, drummer Zlatko Kaucic, and trumpeter Kyle Gregory. The front line of this band is well-formed in the spirit of Coleman, with Salamon's steely, jaunty, animated, six-string very much in the midst of it all. The near-20-minute title track, dedicated to the leader's golden retriever Ela, is an amazing musical statement from start to finish. Kaucic's playful drum intro leads to a singing Succi on bass clarinet, and Gregory with Salamon wringing out wet lines, sets up Binney's distinctive, slipping and sliding, angular, piquant, signature solo discourse with only a rhythm section. The altoists' ideas are truly inexhaustible, and the piece is written with his individualism in mind -- dig in! He and the front line melt effortlessly into a spontaneous sounding repeated triple-triplet figure that makes the piece take off even further. The track sounding most like Coleman is "Coffee with a Girl" at almost 19 minutes, using clipped-to-lengthening melody phrases precluding broken, brittle free improv, which upon each repeat employs differing timbre and time inferences before swinging the bridge hard. It's stunning music. Straddling spirit waltz and tick-tock precision, Binney and Gregory are very united, merging sounds for "Emotional Playground," while a tuneful, head-nodding blues meets stalking bass en route to a heavy complex 11/8 mid-section during "Broken Windows," and you hear Ela's assimilated woofing on the intro of the scattered, running wild "There's Still Dog Food Left in It." This is very hip, creative, muscular new music from an emerging voice that is at a departure gate from his influences of Coleman, John Scofield, and Mick Goodrick. It sounds like he's well on his way.

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