Unshaped Words documents a spontaneous composition of an ad-hoc quintet of American violist Mat Maneri, Canadian guitarist-oud player Gordon Grdina, and Italian clarinetist Marco Colonna, vocalist Giulia Cianca and double bass player Mario Cianca that was recorded during a live session at Folderol Studios in Rome in June 2022. The cover art by Italian painter Giulia Napoleone corresponds with the poetic spirit of this session.
British pianist Alexander Hawkins contributed insightful liner notes to this and finds it beautiful and strange, «when the music ghosts tantalizingly close to the established norms, and yet as it surely sails close to them, nonetheless never touches down on them». Hawkins enjoys the elusive and free-associative play of this quintet with the concept of ‘song’, and how the wordless singing of Cianca finds a true partner in the bass clarinet voice of Colonna and the chamber and reserved collective improvisation dynamics of the quintet, with brief and minimalist solos.
This spontaneous composition emphasizes also the poetic, deep listening spirit of this session, especially during the tense and stormy moments (check «Silence»). But these experienced improvisers know how to resolve these tensions and resume their thoughtful and empathic collective improvisation. When Grdina picks the oud on «Heritage» the European concept of ‘song’ becomes even richer with enigmatic Eastern colors. This beautiful composition ends with the emotional and lyrical «Night» that leaves us – the listener- seeking more from this exceptional quintet.
Blossoms is a meeting of Colonna, focusing here on the bass clarinet, with Austrian, Graz-based jazz pianist Dieter Glawischnig and Italian drummer Francesco Cigana. This session was recorded live at Eggersdorf Kultur Halle in Graz. This is the first documentation of this trio, playing here a five-movement, free improvised, chamber suite. At first, Colonna takes the leading role and articulates the melodic themes, but always leaving enough room for Glawischnig to expand and vary his ideas and for Cigana to ornament these ideas with delicate, fractured percussive patterns. Slowly and later on, the dynamics become more conversational and open and more democratic and playful. The last two movements are the most adventurous ones and highlight the strong individual voices of this ad-hoc trio.
Mat Maneri (viola), Gordon Grdina (guitar, oud), Marco Colonna (clarinets, bass clarinet), Giulia Cianca (vocals), Mario Cianca (double bass), Dieter Glawischnig (piano), Francesco Cigana (drums)