Edition number thirty-one of Amirani Records is POLISHING THE MIRROR
Edoardo Marraffa _ tenor and sopranino saxophones | Thollem McDonas _ piano | Stefano Giust _ drums, cymbals, objects
music _ instant compositions by Marraffa, McDonas, Giust. recording _ 2011 May 14th, live at Scuola Popolare di Musica “Ivan Illich”, Bologna,Italy. sound engineer & editing _ Nicola Guazzaloca. mastering _ The Norman Conquest, Oakland, Ca, USA. graphics _ Alan De Cecco. executive production _ Gianni Mimmo for Amirani Records
Tracklist: 01 _ Polishing the mirror 16:07 02 _ Lucidare la lente 07:34 03 _ Lucidare la retina 08:11 04 _ Hinges 02:32 05 _ Ritorno 06:39
Sound image permutations
talented skills and generous playing are the amazing features of this album taken live during the successful italian tour and finely mastered by renowed The Norman Conquest, Oakland, CA.
Along with the return on Amirani Rec. of prolific Thollem McDonas, an assertive pianist and perpetually touring artist with concerts all over the planet and excellent collaborations, this Polishing The Mirror features the volcanic, sincere, screaming, climbing and soulful playing by Edoardo Marraffa, aboslutely one of the most original saxophone voice of the italian avant-scene, and the oblique, multi perspective, far from conventional drumming by Stefano Giust, an harsh and exquisite touch servicing music with restless energy and faith.
Amirani is pretty proud to host here Stefano Giust, SETOLA DI MAIALE president, the most prolific european avant-garde label, heroic presence and unmistakable reference for improvisation, experimental and advancend, talented projects from all over the world.
The background of this trio
is rich and varied, yet it is difficult to define their music as eclectic, because the factors that come into play in the relationship of composition, the different materials that make up the music, is developed in depth and time, in an original language. Change and transformation are under investigation, in this group: the harmonic relations, the melodic and rhythmic counterpoint always goes in different paths, sometimes evolving slowly, at times subjected to sudden acceleration, while maintaining a certain independence and complexity that allows a multi-dimensional musical journey, the trio of musicians prefer a unity of purpose and cohesion that leads them to an intense and expressive communicative. Each of the three musicians work with many international musicians, producing a lot of concerts and records through the years.
is constantly on tour as a soloist and in collaboration with various groups and musicians, has performed in theaters, art galleries, universities, elementary schools, concert halls, jazz clubs, rock clubs, festivals, warehouses, private homes, roads, forests, riots, television, radio and internet. He has performed symphony concerts for piano, has performed with groups of West African drummers, Javanese gamelan orchestras, punk bands, with hundreds of improvisational groups, and as pianist / composer for opera and modern dance.
devotes his attention to the transformation (acoustic) sound of his instrument, which becomes a source of polyphonic and with continuous changes of timbre and improvisation understood as collective composition. Has given rise to numerous musical projects and collaborates with international musicians. He has performed in many festivals dedicated to jazz and improvised music in Europe and America.
is a drummer, electronic music composer and producer – since ’93 for his label Setola Di Maiale, which produces his work as the work of many artists -. In the last thirty years his work has focused on the broad spectrum of improvised and experimental music; it develops into many different achievements, in which indeterminate music hold a central role. He collaborates with musicians, composers, filmmakers, dancers, actors, poets, visual artists. He has performed in all Europe and Brasil.
CD version (incl. shipment cost world-wide)
The only thing that’s puzzling about Polishing the Mirror is the album’s title. I cannot fathom its significance. The music, on the other hand, is as direct and as immediate as it gets. Here, we have the wonderful improvising pianist Thollem McDonas in no-holds-barred free-jazz mode. Accompanied by saxophonist Eduardo Marraffa and percussionist Stefano Giust—two of Italy’s finest young improvising musicians—McDonas cuts loose with some truly radical, and truly lovely, piano playing. Marraffa, who co-leads the wonderful free jazz group Eco d’Alberi, is an exceptionally gifted player. His tenor sound is positively cavernous, harkening back to the more atavistic sounds of early Pharoah Sanders, David S. Ware and Heinz Sauer. Guist is no slouch either. Endlessly resourceful, he uses every surface of his conventional drumkit to generate sounds that are somehow unexpected while being completely in concert with the prevailing mood of the moment.
Though the music on Polishing The Mirror is completely improvised and works with a familiar instrumentation, it is quite varied in mood and texture. “Ritorno” is a case in point. Starting out as an agitated extended crescendo with all three instrumentalists going full-bore, the saxophone and percussion inexplicably drop out. McDonas responds with an hilariously florid piano figure that quickly develops into a more open three-way conversation, dominated by tenor saxophone and drums. Oddly, “found sounds” play a role on this live recording. A squeaking, groaning piano bench acts almost as a 4th instrument during the foggy opening passages of “Lucidare La Lente.” Though the bench is soon rendered inaudible by McDonas’ triple forte chords and Marraffa’s squalling tenor, its use as a sound source is a valid and complete part of the instant composition. This piece blends seamlessly into “Lucidare La Retina,” ostensibly a feature for Marraffa’s absolutely volcanic tenor saxophone, rife with wheezing, whirring overtones, unimaginable intervallic leaps, and animalistic growlings. McDonas answers Marraffa’s foray with a dense, tension-filled improvisation of his own while Giust patters away underneath.
The 16-minute-plus title track is the album’s centerpiece. Flowing through an endless variety of strategies and approaches, the trio remains tightly focused throughout. Giust is the key element here. While never playing time per se, his drumming has got a real sense of “pulse.” For the first five minutes of the piece, he imparts a bounding sense of forward motion while continually shifting amongst a wide array of sounds. He bows out, largely, for an extended and amazing prepared piano passage, re-entering with low, muffled toms as McDonas himself waxes percussive on the piano innards.
The amazing thing is that MAGIMC is just one of an array of two dozen or so working small groups that Thollem McDonas maintains these days. The sense of connection between these disparate musicians is deep and palpable throughout Polishing The Mirror. It’s something that can take years to develop, but in this case—as with many of McDonas’ collaborations—it’s seemingly developed instantly.