Mario Schiano

Used to Be Friends

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This live Schiano and friends date from Rome in 1995 is everything a free improvisation performance should be. It should be noted that this quintet was to be a sextet, but, based on an included taped excerpt from a telephone answering machine message, Evan Parker couldn't make the gig. That said, here is a group improv concert in five parts. Since this is a quintet, it would be tempting to see the five parts as being divided up among the soloists, but it doesn't work out that way. Indeed Schiano is clearly the leader here. His vision and gentle guidance shape these seamless, edgeless improvisations from rather slight ideas to full-blown sonic universes with a maximum amount of creative interplay between all parties. Note, in section one, the winding duel that goes on between Peter Kowald's trombone and Ernst Reijseger's cello; or part three's bluesy explorations between Lovens, Schiano and Kowald; or in the encore, when Rutherford and Schiano go head to head and Lovens (with his usual aplomb) folds Reijseger and Kowald into the center of the microtonal expressionism. The architecture that is being erected here is circular and has lots of windows; there is figure cut into the glass only to be replaced with others equally as ornate and spacious. The freedom and confidence of timbral exploration and melodic intrigue that is being given voice here is extraordinary, strikingly beautiful, and haunting throughout. This is Schiano's most erstwhile companion to Blue Memories with Renato Geremia and Jöelle Léandre (Splasch 449), recorded a year before in Sicily. These two albums are the very finest measure of Schiano's worth as both a leader and an improviser in a group setting.

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