The international, free improvising quartet of Mexican, Berlin-based vibes player Emilio Gordoa, Spanish sax player Don Malfon (aka Alfonso Muñoz), British double bass master John Edwards and Norwegian and fellow Berliner drummer Dag Magnus Narvesen demonstrated its deep chemistry at the 2018 edition of the Berlin A L’Arme Festival. «Substantial Myths» is the debut album of this quartet, recorded live a year later at the Artacts Festival in St. Johann in Tirol, Austria, in March 2019.
Gordoa, Malfon, Edwards and Narvesen are curious and experienced improvisers, well-versed with the legacy of free jazz and the art of the moment, and all have developed their own personal approaches and distinct extended techniques. Gordoa prepares his vibes with various utensils and expands its sonic palette; Malfon is known for the great intensity and passion in his free playing; Edwards has played with all the great ones including Evan Parker, Peter Brötzmann and Joe McPhee; and Narvesen collaborates regularly with master pianist Alexander von Schlippenbach.
«Substantial Myths» offers a 48-minute improvisation titled «Old Tannery» (a translation from the German name of the main location of the Artacts Festival, Alte Gerberei). The quartet builds patiently and intuitively its layered and highly nuanced, rhythmic dynamics in the first part of the improvisation, with a loose structure that encourages individual sonic explorations and the usage of extended bowing and breathing techniques, but methodically intensifies the tension. The tension subsides at the beginning of the second part of the improvisation when all four musicians focus on their distinct extended techniques. Gordoa’s prepared vibes add a noisy, resonant layer to the tight interplay, and triggers imaginative and inventive sound-oriented contributions from Malfon, Edwards and Narvesen that transform this improvisation into abstract sound art that meets an impressionist drone. But again, the fragile and patient dynamics shift slowly to an intense mode and exhaust the full power of this quartet, but ends with a poetic, dreamy coda.
Hope to hear more recordings from this great quartet.
Emilio Gordoa (vib), Don Malfon (as, bs), John Edwards (b), Dag Magnus Narvesen (dr)