The title «Interweaving» captures beautifully the essence of the duo of legendary German pianist Alexander von Schlippenbach and Norwegian, Berlin-based drummer Dag Magnus Narvesen. Von Schlippenbach, now 80 years old, known as the leader of the acclaimed Globe Unity Orchestra and the Berlin Contemporary Jazz Orchestra as well as a brilliant interpreter of Thelonious Monk work, and Narvesen, 35 years old, known as the leader of his own Kvintett, the DAMANA octet and a collaborator of von Schlippenbach’s wife, pianist Aki Takase, collaborated first when Schlippenbach conducted the Stavanger-based Kitchen Orchestra («Kitchen Orchestra with Alexander von Schlippenbach», Whats Cooking Records, 2013).
«Interweaving» was recorded on July 2016 in Berlin, beautifully mixed and mastered by musicians Roy Carroll and Werner Dafeldecker, and released only on limited-edition vinyl with an impressive artwork of Tetsuya Nagato (who did also the artwork for «Kitchen Orchestra with Alexander von Schlippenbach»). The bandcamp page of the duo offers two additional pieces of the duo.
Von Schlippenbach and Narvesen first recorded document offers six tightly knitted musical constructions. In these pieces, enlaced forms and energetic phrases exquisitely interact to form a vibrant dialogue. The immediate and intense musical game of von Schlippenbach and Narvesen never follows charted courses and is always challenging, suggesting different routes simultaneously and keeps building layers upon layers of subtle expressions. Narvesen drumming refuses to settle on any kind of fixed pulse and is aimed at coloring and accentuating von Schlippenbach stream-of-consciousness phrases. Von Schlippenbach playing often adopts cyclical, percussive rhythmic patterns.
The duo manages to keeps an arresting tension even on minimalist and sparse pieces like «Banging the Barrel», where von Schlippenbach and Narvesen create a mysterious, profound sense of tension by focusing on a delicate cymbal work and gentle overtones produces by gentle touches of the piano keys. Both play masterfully with different elements of tension building on the following «Catch Up», now turning these elements into a fast and playful chasing game. Neither of them is shy from a more conflictual, more tensed dialogue as explored on the dynamic «Hard Nosed». «String Out» distills von Schlippenbach and Narvesen highly inventive vocabularies into an enigmatic poem of fascinating and otherworldly sounds. Both play brilliantly with phrases of Monk’s iconic «Evidence» on the last, title-piece that corresponds with Monk-ish expressions in another energetic, imaginative play of ideas, forms and dynamics.
The two pieces on the bandcamp page – The energetic «The Blues Morlocks» and the brief and cryptic «Single Bells» continue the multilayered, colorful dialog of these gifted and resourceful free-improvisers. Both have crafted their own language that blurs all differences.
Alexander von Schlippenbach (p), Dag Magnus Narvesen (dr)