Liudas Mockūnas | Barry Guy | Lava | No Business Records

Liudas Mockūnas – soprano, tenor and bass saxophones | Barry Guy – bass

All compositions by Liudas Mockūnas (KODA) and Barry Guy (PRS, PPL). Recorded live at Kaunas Artists House Concert Hall on the 2nd April, 2011 by Arūnas Zujus. Mixed by Arūnas Zujus and Liudas Mockūnas. Mastered by Arūnas Zujus at MAMAstudios. Cover design and photos by Neringa Žukauskaitė. Layout by Oskaras Anosovas. Produced by Liudas Mockūnas and Barry Guy. Executive producer – Danas Mikailionis. Co-producer – Valerij Anosov

Tracklist Side A: 1. Nebula I 2. Nebula II 3. Nebula III 4. Fumarole Side B: 1. Event Horizon 2. Singularity 3. Dark Matter

Liudas Mockūnas | Photo by Peter Gannushkin

Liudas Mockūnas | Photo by Peter Gannushkin

Barry Guy | Photo by Stefan Postius

Barry Guy | Photo by Stefan Postius

Iconoclastic saxophonists

Mats Gustafsson and Evan Parker furnish the most customary duo outlets for master bassist Barry Guy, so Lithuanian reedman Liudas Mockunas’ situation on Lava is an exposed one. However, he acquits himself well in a voice entirely his own. Co-founder of the No Business imprint, Mockūnas weighs in as one of the country’s premier improvisers, appearing alongside an ever increasing catalogue of Baltic, Scandinavian, and US performers. Previous appearances have placed him in a Peter Brötzmann-like trio on Live at 11:20 (No Business, 2010) and in an impromptu freewheeling duet with Japanese pianist Ryoji Hojito on Vacation Music (No Business, 2011).

In consort with Guy, the reedman waxed the seven completely improvised dialogues which form this limited edition LP at a 2011 performance in Kaunas, Lithuania’s second-largest city, just a day before the bassist’s encounter with The Thing, captured on Metal!. What makes Guy so exciting is the range of textures he extracts from his 5-string bass, the speed with which he marshals them, and the sheer musicality of his conception. In concert there is an added dimension as it is possible to appreciate his dervish energy and the physical theater of his extended techniques, which must be just imagined from this recording. Mockūnas proves a nimble and fluent partner. On soprano saxophone, his sound is pure though with an occasionally astringent edge of overtones, sometimes complemented by circular breathing to maintain unfeasibly prolonged tones, while on bass saxophone he contrasts plosive outbursts with stentorian bellows.

Even though uncharted, there is a pleasing narrative arc to many of the cuts, as the two participants create structure in the moment. “Nebula I” builds to a spirited crescendo, then stops dead, while the second installment is a slow burning fuse and the third a brief explosion of tightly coiled soprano and frenetic bass explosions. On “Fumarole,” Mockūnas supplements his blown notes on tenor saxophone with rhythmic keypad pattering, matching Guy’s multiple voices from sharp ticking plucks and tolling resonance, derived from inserting a metal pole through the strings, until working up to an impassioned frenzy. Such empathetic interplay permeates the entire disc, which concludes on a high point as “Dark Matter” exits to a haunting tenor dirge underpinned by ringing bass motifs, staking Mockūnas’ claim as a worthy foil for the bassist. — John Sharpe


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3 thoughts on “Liudas Mockūnas | Barry Guy | Lava | No Business Records

  1. Barry Guy over the years has remained essential, personally original and openly creative. He still occupies a space at the very pinnacle of excellence in the “free” jazz, improvisational contrabass realm.

    For Lava (No Business NBLP 54), he teams with saxophonist Liudas Mockūnas for a limited edition LP of the two holding forth in the free zone. Liudas dons the soprano, tenor and bass saxophones and interacts impressively well with the always on Mr. Guy. Barry’s playing is here as elsewhere a model of sound originality, dynamic heft and percussive/timbral zone patterning.

    It’s avant improv at levels aficionados will recognize as peak. Mr. Mockūnas holds his own impressively. This is what we come to expect from No Business releases: pure genre (whatever that means), uncompromising, vital.

  2. Avec Liudas Mockūnas, Barry Guy poursuit sur NoBusiness son oeuvre enregistré en compagnie de saxophonistes épais – le label n’a-t-il pas plus tôt produit ses rencontres avec Mats Gustafsson en The Thing (Metal!), Tarfala Trio (SYZYGY) et en simple duo (Sinners, Rather than Saints) ?

    Lui aussi rompu au duo (Ilk et NoBusiness l’ayant respectivement associé à Stefan Pasborg et Marc Ducret, pour des résultats certes peu convaincants), le saxophoniste (soprano, ténor et basse) lituanien se mesure donc à une contrebasse de taille. De la main, Guy agrippe un lot de cordes qui chantent sous tensions et obligent le soprano à opérer derechef un repli dans un motif conciliant. Plus loin, le même saxophone réagira en furieux sur coups d’archet rapide et le ténor disputera la moindre seconde d’espace à son partenaire.

    Plus grave encore est la seconde face : le saxophone basse progressant à notes comptées pour mieux convaincre la contrebasse qu’un accord est nécessaire. De mouvements circulaires en effets d’archet rebondissant, Guy y travaillera : le contraste étant souvent chez lui gage de qualité, Lava en bénéficiera.

  3. Lava is a wonderfully apt title for this duet between Liudas Mockunas on soprano, tenor and bass saxophones and Barry Guy on bass. The music was recorded live at Kaunas Artists House Concert Hall in Lithuania on the 2nd of April, 2011, and released in a limited edition run of 300 vinyl LP’s. Lava is the appropriate name for this music as it flows slowly and inexorably forward. Guy is a rock solid bassist who is a stalwart on the avant jazz and classical scene in Europe, and his skills are well used here, both as a soloist and a collaborator. Mockunas is very interesting as well, moving through his different instruments and allowing the music of the moment take him as the landscape or terrain would dictate the flow of lava. Although the title alludes to earth science, the titles of the improvisations reach for the cosmos beginning with the suite “Nebula 1-3” with its dreaming and haunting soundscape, the music adrift in the void before a short and wild ride through “Fumarole.” They head farther out into the cosmos on the second side of the record, delving deep into a musical black hole with “Singularity” and “Event Horizon” before emerging with “Dark Matter.” This was a fascinating and emotionally wrought album, with two excellent musicians creating in the moment and moving through space and time at will.

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