The spirit of the free-improvising meeting of Italian, Munich-based trombonist Sebi Tramontana and generation-younger, Portuguese, Berlin-based cellist Guilherme Rodrigues is captured in the poem of the Korean artist and human-rights activist Han Jiae, «They must be night animals»: «I mean, something like owls on the trees or / lonely fox wandering around the city. / With no expectations, they find themselves / out of darkness, putting all their efforts to go / back to the night but too late. All they could / do is to sympathise each other and finding / ways to survive during the day time. / They go through the courses of adjustment, / invention, and resistance but at the end, / transcendence. / It was not only their first time to see and face / the light, but also, after all, they had their first / lunch in their whole life made by Han Jiae».
Han Jiae collaborated before in multidisciplinary projects of Rodrigues. Apparently, Rodrigues and Tramontana, one of the key figures of European free-improvisation, known from his collaborations with the Italian Instabile Orchestra and Joëlle Léandre, Georg Gräwe and Frank Gratkowski, liked the poem so much that they titled the album after the Han Jiae. Their duo was recorded at Friedelstrasse 5 in Berlin in February 2020, and Tramontana also did the cover art.
The seven short, untitled pieces highlight the rich and unconventional languages of both Tramontana and Rodrigues and the various dynamics they experienced at the studio. The first piece is lyrical and playful, but the following ones are more free-associative, touching fleeting melodic veins and focus on exploring timbral nuances and expand the sonic palette of the trombone and the cello. Rodrigues tends to probe the physical aspects of the cello as well as the physicality of the space. Tramontana plays with extended breathing techniques and multiphonics and his pathos-filled vocalizations add an ironic angle and a sense of mischievous surprise to the spontaneous, conversational dialogs. Their distinct approaches merge beautifully and suggest imaginative and poetic interplay where the delicate sounds are elastic and tangible entities that can be molded, shaped and reshaped constantly. And as Han Jiae observed, the Tramontana and Rodrigues do go through the courses of adjustment, invention, and resistance but at the end, transcendence, as in the course of any meaningful free-improvised meeting.
- Eyal Hareuveni
Le violoncelliste Guilherme Rodrigues et le tromboniste Sebi Tramontana se rencontrent ici, sans doute fortuitement, dans un magnifique échange – partage en sept actes numérotés de I à VII et assez courts (maximum 5’27’’). Ils ont plaisir à altérer les sons de leurs instruments, étendant et transformant les possibilités sonores, en renouvelant continuellement les éléments de langages : lexique, grammaire, syntaxe, extrapolation dans une dimension ludique souveraine, la spontanéité du dialogue instantané. Si le violoncelliste fait vibrer le timbre et l’élasticité sonore de son instrument en y ajoutant des techniques alternatives à bon escient, le tromboniste excelle à chanter dans l’embouchure, vocalisant à l’instar des grands anciens (Tricky Sam Nanton, Lawrence Brown ou Roswell Rudd), ses inflexions vocales travaillent et zigzaguent autant que ses sourdines et que sa coulisse. Tout l’intérêt de cet enregistrement réside dans l’adaptation de chacun des deux protagonistes, deux artistes assez, voire très différents, dans la personnalité musicale de l’autre au fil d'improvisations spontanées ET millimétrées. Rien à jeter ! Une forme de contraste chaleureux, humain, une connivence naturelle et joyeuse, débouche sur les même histoires (de I à VII) racontées en coups d’archets brefs, glissandi, cadences brisées, phonèmes instrumentaux, vibrations élégiaques, unissons informels, glossolalies du pavillon, bribes de mélodies, concassages du timbre, simplicité apparente des matériaux, bonne humeur sans clin d’œil, grattements de cordes, passage de l’air dans le tube, compressions de la colonne d’air, multiphoniques, col legno…. Guilherme et Sebi ne se perdent pas dans des avalanches de sons, le moindre détail de leurs jeux contribuent à faire passer leur message d’un jour (22-02-2020). J’avais beaucoup apprécié le solo récent de Guilherme Rodrigues, 22 miniatures exquises au violoncelle, Cascata (Creative Sources). Et donc, Han Jiae est sans doute le plus beau et surtout le plus touchant des albums de ces deux improvisateurs. L'image de pochette reproduit un dessin - portrait des duettistes signé Tramontana. À écouter attentivement. Un vrai plaisir !
- Jean-Michel Van Schouwburg
William H. Gass has a quote (which I will bungle in paraphrase here) about how the amount of time and effort it takes to comprehend a novel is proportional to the time and effort needed to compose it. When taken to the realm of music this principle doesn’t quite hold as much weight, but it presents an interesting issue: is free improvisation disposable music? No matter how much practice goes into forming the skills necessary for it or how obtuse the theory is that binds it together, improvisation is inherently a “tossed off” thing. As Steve Lacy put it: “The difference between composition and improvisation is that in composition you have all the time you want to decide what to say in 15 seconds, while in improvisation you have 15 seconds.”
While I can sympathize with those who hear nothing but aimless noodling and pretentious ego in free improv, for me the clarity of musical identity and richness of expression in the form are unrivaled. In no other genre is the choice of how to approach each note given such fundamental importance, and nowhere else are the performers so naked before the audience, tasked as they are with complete responsibility for what they play. Han Jiae is as good of an album of contemporary free improvisation as I have heard. While staying firmly in a melodic mode they run the gamut of techniques and expressions, tastefully and thoughtfully showcasing the unique sonics of each instrument. Sebi Tramontana and Guilherme Rodrigues play with the kind of sympathetic rapport that improv duos thrive on, the kind that allows them to finely thread the needle between supporting the other players ideas and responding to them with original material. It's the kind of sound you can only get from free improvisation, and it’s exactly why the style will never be disposable.
- Samuel McLemore
On han jiae (ie-024), we have the pairing of Sebi Tramontana (trombone) with Guilherme Rodrigues (cello). They opt for short and snappy pieces on this album and I think the whole thing might be less than half an hour long. Just two “voicings”, yet they find and create many interesting sonic worlds to explore through this simple set-up. Of the two, I sense that Sebi sits on the more romantic and juicy side of the fence, and frequently makes his trombone “speak” like a human voice, with florid and growly effects, repeated phrases, grumbly gripes, and expressive swooping tones. Guilherme sits slightly over to the right of that fence and goes for crisp, brittle sounds, sometimes choosing to act like a percussionist with his stabby bursts, and is not afraid to use glissandoes, drones, and other devices. In this way, both players exhibit a demonstrativeness which is highly entertaining, and acts as an antidote to the stiffness and rigid pose of the Radu Malfatti school. Sebi Tramontana, originally from Sicily and now living in Berlin, has been active for a long while and appeared in many duo and large-group settings, and I’m a tad surprised I haven’t heard him on any of the records he appears on. Portuguese player Guilherme Rodrigues has appeared on numerous Creative Sources releases, and we heard him playing the viola on Golden Towers and Electric Frictions with Miguel A Garcia and others. Of the four in today’s envelope, this one is your best bet for enjoyable and entertaining music.
- Ed Pinsent
released June 27, 2020
Sebi Tramontana - Trombone
Guilherme Rodrigues - Cello
All music by Sebi Tramontana & Guilherme Rodrigues
Recorded by Guilherme Rodrigues at Friedelstrasse 5 in Berlin, Germany on 22/2/2020
Mixed and mastered by Primož Bončina
Drawing by Sebi Tramontana (Unfolding Story, 2018)
Text by Han Jiae
Graphic design by László Szakács
Produced by László Juhász
Special thanks to Frank Gratkowski, Massimo Fiorito, Ernesto Rodrigues & Carlos Santos
They must be night animals
I mean, something like owls on the trees or lonely fox wandering around the city.
With no expectations, they find themselves out of darkness, putting all their efforts to go back to the night but too late. All they could do is to sympathise each other and finding ways to survive during the day time.
They go through the courses of adjustment, invention, and resistance but at the end, transcendence.
It was not only their first time to see and face the light, but also, after all, they had their first lunch in their whole life made by Han Jiae.
Released: June 2020 / first edition of 300 cds
Guilherme Rodrigues is a cellist, improviser and composer from Lisboa, Portugal.
He was born in 1988 in Lisboa and
started to learn cello and trumpet when he was seven at Orquestra Metropolitana de Lisboa and later in Conservatório Nacional de Música de Lisboa to study classical and music theory until his twenty-three. With an intuitive approach to improvisation and exploration of the timbres......more