Carlos Bechegas

Open Frontiers

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In early 2004, Carlos Bechegas' small independent label Forward released two CDs recorded when the flutist visited France in July 2003. Open Frontiers is the keeper of the two. Bechegas is a highly creative improviser, with many extended techniques up his sleeve and a certain sense of humor. He found in Michel Edelin the perfect partner. The Frenchman, a veteran jazz flutist, is witty, spirited, and fanciful. His ample use of ethnic flutes (like the bansari), bird-calls, and toys brings to mind the worldliness of Clive Bell, and the childlike wonder of Jean Derome. Open Frontiers presents 20 duets, all below the six-minute barrier. Each duet presents a different pairing of instruments: alto, bass, piccolo and C flutes, plus Edelin's extras. The music ranks from ceremonial drones (the opener "Tales of Lhassa," "Spirits Voices") to frantic dialogues, from delicate instant melodies to intricate textural playing. Thelonious Monk's "Trinkle Tinkle" appears halfway through, sounding almost accidental. The shortest pieces are often the most vehement and surprising: in "Where Is the Exit?" and "Classic Average," for instance, Bechegas and Edelin start and stop on a dime, bouncing notes left and right like two limbs from the same body. And despite the abundance of unorthodox techniques -- circular breathing, lots of vocalizations and breath effects on Bechegas' part, key-tapping and unusual instruments on Edelin's -- the music is welcoming, easy to grasp and to enjoy. Recommended.

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