Duo akt documents the first-ever recording of two innovative Swedish free improvisers – Malmö-based double bass player-educator Johannes Nästesjö, known for his longtime collaborations with the Catalan free improv scene and pianist Agustí Fernández and percussionist Vasco Trilla in particular, and Stockholm-based Sten Sandell, a generation older than Nästesjö, a composer, sound artist, vocalist and a poet, co-founder of Gush trio (with Mats Gustafsson and Raymond Strid), who collaborated with many like-minded Nordic improvisers – Frode Gjerstad, Paal Nilssen-Love, Lisa Ullén and Lotte Anker. Their duo was recorded at In-Discourse studio in Malmö in November 2021,
The seven, free improvised «akt» pieces are intimate, expressive and poetic talks between two idiosyncratic improvisers. Nästesjö’s approach is physical, he is all over the double bass, sometimes touches its wooden body and offers muted, percussive sounds, and, obviously, employs extended bowing techniques. Sandell’s approach is more suggestive and introspective, often quite modest and minimalist, as if he plays only the necessary parts. But the interplay of Nästesjö and Sandell is immediate and natural, stressing deep listening – or Listening with your Fingertips, as the title of Nästesjö’s recent duo Fernández (Konvoj, 2018), resonating their inventive ideas and unpredictable courses as if Nästesjö and Sandell were playing together for years. They visit fragments of modern jazz melodies and contemporary music, and their music captures beautifully the art of the moment.
Nästesjö and Sandell performed in June 2022 in Copenhagen’s Rytmisk Musikkonservatorium where Nästesjö presented his research called «Reaching for the utmost limits, making a process visible with The Hands, the Bow, and the Bass», aiming at «reaching for the utmost limits on my instrument, in dynamically, technically and pitch related ways both find, for me, new contemporary techniques and expand the ways on how to play and perform them on the double bass». Nästesjö’s solo double bass album The Hand, the Bow and the Bass was recorded at Inter Arts Center in Malmö in March 2021 and demonstrates his research insights. Nästesjö’s commanding, extended bowing techniques make the double bass sing multiphonics like a choir of resonating string instruments, sound like an abstract, industrial machine, evoke mysterious ethereal voices, ritualist-meditative tones and stubborn waves, and suggest a series of surprising sonic discoveries by a true master of the bull fiddle.
Johannes Nästesjö (b), Sten Sandell (p)