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KENT CARTER double bass

1 - WOODWORKS - 6:09
2 - RIVIERE - 5:41
4 - NUTS IN VIENNA - 6:45
7 - PLAYTHING - 4:16
8 - NATRUSHKA - 8:59
9 - IT'S LATE - 0:42

Digital studio recording by KENT CARTER
at MAD Studios, Juillaguet - 1996 AUGUST
Total time 60:00

All previously unissued


Excerpts from sleeve notes:

I first had the good fortune to meet Albrecht in 1990 during the time he was a member of the Theo Jorgensmann Werkschau Ensemble. Theo and I were also working together at that time, and one evening he played me some recordings of this ensemble and suggested that it would be great for me to meet Albrecht. When I heard this music I was very astonished to discover this fantastic violin playing - great sound and creative improvising. This was just what I was looking for.

We met and I joined Albrecht Maurer's Quartet Works Project with Wolter Wierbos and Achim Kramer. The CD of this work is one of the finest projects I have been involved with during my career.

His background and collaboration with some of the best European musicians, (Eckard Koltermann, Frank Gratkowski, Simon Nabatov, Phil Minton, Barre Phillips, Charlie Mariano, Maggie Nicols, Regina Pastuszyk, Norbert Stein, Thomas Witzmann, Theo Jorgensmann, Wolter Wierbos, Markus Stockhausen, Lauren Newton and many others) plus his own ensembles and creations gives, what I think to be, a fantastic foundation to work from. This inspiration motivated me to re-think and rebuild my String Trio which had been resting for some years - now, alive and well -....

Other projects together - Kent Carter Project with Karl Berger, Charlie Mariano and Klaus Kugel; plus Trio - Carter, Maurer, Kugel.

These duo recordings tell the on-going story better than any words of mine ... Stay tuned . . . . .


In the south-west of France, south of the town of Angoulême, lies the little village of Juillaguet. South of this, at the end of a dirt road, one reaches chez Kent Carter et Michala Marcus and their MAD Studios (MAD as in "Music/Arts/Dance" - a focus on sanity). It may seem a long way from the Boston jazz scene of the early 1960s, or the New York "October Revolution" of 1964, but for Kent Carter it's an almost idyllic centre to continue his varied musical pursuits.

The music on this CD is not really anticipated by the legion of musical collaborations he has been involved in since moving to Europe in the mid-1960s - with almost everybody from Paul Bley to Derek Bailey and from Max Roach to Noah Howard. Even his extended membership of the Steve Lacy Quintet throughout the 1970s doesn't really give any hints.

To get pointers to this music, one has to listen to the four mainly solo 1970s LPs, which feature some superb string solos and conversations with himself. (The first of these was BEAUVAIS CATHEDRAL on Emanem.) Another foretaste came from the 1980s Kent Carter String Trio, with Carlos Zingaro and François Dreno, heard on THE WILLISAU SUITES on ITMP.

Carter and Albrecht Maurer fit incredibly well together, even though they were born twenty years apart on opposite sides of the Atlantic. Two pieces (Archaic Fragments and Inzwischenzeit) are based on compositions by Mauer, and one (Plaything) on a composition by Carter. All of the rest are free improvisations, but the musicians' rapport and sensibilities are so strong that it sounds as though these performances were fully prepared in advance. This collection is a very fine example of string music.



Excerpts from reviews:

"This duo recording may very well be the most accessible Emanem Release to date. By no means indicative of a sell-out on the label's part, it is merely to suggest that the wistful and often picturesque melodies will prove irresistible to all but the most jaded critics. This duo finds two gifted improvisers with a well tuned rapport and clear respect for each other's craft, made obvious by the way that lead and supporting roles are in a constant state of flux. Bassist Kent Carter, a veteran of many a European improvised gig, is heard to great advantage in this context, one in which he is permitted more freedom to sculpt and shape the music with a sometimes sour, sometimes sweet tone. Carter's bowing fills the canvas with a plethora of options, whether etching away with atmospheric interjections or answering the call with a thunderous onslaught of textural patterns. Though violinist Albrecht Maurer is a new voice to me, his work on this session guarantees that an extensive investigation into his discography will follow. Maurer is an incredibly versatile string player, gliding about buoyantly one moment, or fervently attacking the music with deliberate force the next. At times, Maurer can be jaunty and tense, and at others tragically tender, but above all, he remains challenging without sounding deliberately abstruse. Though the pieces are a mix of composition and improvisation, one would be hard pressed to identify which is which, as this is a first rate duo performance, simultaneously conversational and antagonistic, while sounding both contemporary and timeless."


"As an improvising violinist, Albrecht Maurer is hard to categorise. One can hear intimations of many different styles in his playing - abrupt rhythmic dance figures à la Stravinsky's L'Histoire du Soldat, medieval string drones and modal melodic contours, British Isles and Breton folk fiddling, angular 20th-century chromatic intervals, all spun into a singularly cohesive, spontaneous fantasy. For his part in the duo, acoustic bassist Kent Carter provides a teeter-totter harmonic responsiveness, lyrical counterpoint, and timbral contrast. Together they reject flashy displays of technique in favour of focused interaction over the course of extended melodic development. Whether an individual piece has predetermined "compositional" elements (in which case they may begin with a tighter grip on their thematic material) or is completely free, they typically spread out in unexpected directions, offering a variety of perspectives through an intuitive evolution of phrase into line, and line into longer line, until the shape of the music emerges intact. For all of its unpredictability and immediacy, there's nevertheless a palpable sense of control at the music's core. But it's Mauer's broad range of stylistic nuance that generates its engaging personality."


"The string duo of bassist Kent Carter and violinist Albrecht Maurer defies being placed in a box. It is different from what is usually found on the adventurous Emanem label. It is a different path than Carter tread decades past. Rather, it is a sometimes joyous, often desultory, but always stimulating meeting of two master improvisers who fuse a melange of styles to create a varied and compelling set of musical interaction.

Maurer is the predominate voice, his strings fused with a tempered technique that sparkles, and sparks Carter as partner. There is no effort made to impress, to dazzle, or to alarm. There is quietude that never dissipates, and that softly invigorates. The violinist sports a strong classical technique, and improvises windy lines, often at slow tempos, that appear both logical and self-evident. While Jazz (in the sense of swing) only comes to the fore rarely, there is a subdued freedom that holds sway. Carter is at his best when the two instruments embrace. His bass is performed lovingly, softly; he listens carefully and focuses on melodic charm. Now living in rural south-west France, perhaps the pace of life impacts on his playing. Regardless, his full, rich tone makes every note count. Some may be disappointed in the classical influence, or in the lyrical nature of the tracks. Others will be equally enthralled by the uniqueness, the sound, and the sheer beauty."


"This series of duets between bassist Kent Carter and violinist Albrecht Maurer combines composition and improvisation in uniquely innovative ways. Maurer comes from a traditionally classical aesthetic, while Carter's roots go back to the heart of avant-garde jazz. Together, their largely lovingly subdued interactions create magnificently gorgeous sounds that keep the volume low but the interest perpetually high. Each player focuses on a rich, plush tone. While the lyricism of this recording might surprise those that have not closely followed the bassist's career or who identify the Emanem label with the extremes of the genre, it is, in fact, a powerful tribute to Carter's depth of playing. The two string masters create a true fusion of styles that never compromises their roots."


"There can be something really refreshing about all-strings improvisation, especially when it's as good, and as accessible, as this. No harsh noise-techniques for Carter and Maurer here; these are pieces about notes, pieces which recall early twentieth-century composers like Hindemith, Bartok and Kodaly, pieces full of sweeping harmonies, exquisite dissonances which seem somehow hollow and folkish.

 Carter is one of the better-known free jazz bassmen of his generation, and the list of his previous employers is impressive reading. Here he certainly shows some of his jazz chops, wielding a massive pizzicato like a laser-guided hammer-blow when it's needed, but this really isn't jazz, or at any rate there's no walking or swinging here. He plays arco for most of the session, and between him and Maurer the sound is more like that of a string ensemble than a conventional jazz duet.

Maurer has less name-recognition. Still, his playing is excellent and full of imagination. He's never gratuitously spikey or deliberately difficult, and often his playing has a distinctly nostalgic feel. That's no bad thing; there's a world of difference between piquantly nostalgic yearning and they-don't-write-'em-like-that-any-more retro-fetishism. These performances are almost entirely improvised; as well as six free improvisations, there are two Maurer tunes and one by Carter. These 'compositions' are clearly of the notes-on-paper sort, but the composed sections have an improvisatory feel, and merge quickly but seamlessly into improvisation. It's always impressive when musicians manage to make this most difficult of transitions feel as natural as Maurer and Carter do here, and this is only compounded by the fact that their all-improvised performances sound just as good as those which are launched by compositions. "


"As for the great veteran bassist Kent Carter and violinist Albrecht Mauer's JUILLAGUET COLLECTION, it benefits dreamily from the mutual discovery each player experiences throughout. Like some lost Giacinto Scelsi quartet or Frances Marie Uitti double-bow explosion, this set again show how strings become a forest when played with an ear toward expanded tonalities and broadened forms. There's an electrifying chemistry among the violin and bass here that shades each to the other sounds just enough to keep the ear guessing."


"Expatriate American bassist Kent Carter has played swinging jazz with Max Roach and chittering insect music with Derek Bailey, but violinist Albrecht Maurer steers him into quasi-classical territory on the ravishing lyrical THE JUILLAGUET COLLECTION. The two men are so exquisitely attuned that their spirited extemporaneous duets come off sounding like notated chamber music."


"Their musical understanding is complete and the ten full-length performances and final fragment are each and all worthy of prolonged attention. This is a record that needs some time and application, but it still comes unmistakably from within a modern jazz sensibility."

RICHARD COOK and/or BRIAN MORTON - 'The Penguin Guide to Jazz on CD' 2002

"Throughout these nine pieces, Carter and Maurer exhibit uncanny intuitiveness especially since most of these pieces are improvised as the duo obtain the most from their resonant, wooden-toned instruments which for the most part is all encompassing and at times riveting! The first piece, Woodworks features the respective musicians trading or alternating motifs all within the context of the base framework as they dutifully expound upon ideas and suggestions. Here and throughout we are treated to nimble fingering and intricate plucking by the respective artists. Imagery prevails through subliminal themes, which may hint at English folk, classical stylizations or jazzy improvisation. On Woodworks, Carter maintains a rigid pace with Maurer through his inventive linear development, rapid pulse, inflections and nuance which is also evident on the second piece titled, Riviere. Here, the duo immerse themselves in complex structures and mini-concepts yet sustain a loose vibe while at times anchoring their themes into brief passages that suggest a neo-classical approach. Strict, disciplined teamwork comes to the forefront on Standing Stones as the twosome work closely while sharing similar wavelengths which is an ongoing trait throughout the entire affair. They perform seemingly triumphant themes along with Maurer’s meticulous lines and sweet-tempered notes in unison with Carter’s magnificent bowed-bass work. The musicians churn out harmonious choruses, explore various angles and engage in microtonal passages that equalize the big scheme of things in colorful and contrasting fashion.

THE JUILLAGUET COLLECTION is a fascinating set from two extremely talented pros! Besides the technicalities and overall superior musicianship, the listener should easily envision the smiles that these musicians were more than likely wearing during the recording process. All in all, a serious-minded exhibition of cunning improv and structured compositions as the positive vibes and glittering performances should satisfy the listener while instilling a sense of jubilance along the way. Highly Recommended * * * * ½"


"Both musicians show their subtile and spiritual playing. The music never falls into the abstract pit, on the contrary: there is a melodious sensibility underlying the interplay of these eight strings. Quite beautiful."


"Whatever your expectations, THE JUILLAGUET COLLECTION will be a surprise. Actually, the first musical images taking shape into the listener's mind come from classical grounds. These improvisations (except for three loose compositions) are inhabited by a refreshing lightness and joie de vivre. Carter and Maurer do not fuel on extended techniques or noises, but mostly on deep musical compatibilities. If the violinist hints at a melody the bassist picks it up and expands it. It is as simple as that: free improvisation that is neither jazz nor classical, that won¹t snob a bop bass line or spirited lyricism. When comparing the execution of Maurer's Archaic Fragments to free improvs like Standing Stones and Natrushka one could hardly guess which pieces were written out. All this without a drop of pretentiousness. Die-hard free improv fans may feel a little uncomfortable THE JUILLAGUET COLLECTION's bucolic feel and seducing sonorities (both musicians have beautiful tones). Jazz fans could find in it a good entrance to this genre. In any case, and with this warning in mind, this CD is warmly recommended."


"Free improvisations that are stunning in their richness and melodic tonalities. Bassist Kent Carter, a veteran of Steve Lacy's Seventies groups, and violinist Albrecht Maurer obviously know each other very well. The music they make together is full of 'conventional' harmonies as much as it is of dissonance, so that these pieces sound classically designed and wide-ranging, as if Stravinsky or Mahler had suddenly taken up free improvisation.

Each is a lovely little piece, with the longest (and one of the three based on prearranged themes), Archaic Fragments, clocking in at a little over thirteen minutes. The others are never longer than nine, but Carter and Maurer manage to say a great deal within these confines. Each piece is varied and yet intricately coherent. The melodic invention on a stately and yet playful piece like Natrushka, or the more sonorous and dramatic Riviere, is nothing short of remarkable.

While string duos may not be your cup of tea, if you have any interest at all in "free" improvisation at its absolute best, this disc will appeal to you. Play this for your friends who sneer that free improv is an excuse for a lot of aimless meandering. Recommended."


"THE JUILLAGUET COLLECTION sits closer to the pandora's box of chamber-friendly 'new music'; than to the significantly more informal brand of improvisation for which this label is currently recognised. Both bow their instruments for the majority of the recording, and some of the subsequent neo-classical flourishes are often a little too rariefied, stately and expressive for my taste. At certain points the whole thing can seem rather offputtingly arch and accordingly tough to get into, but regardless, there's no denying that the improvisation is of a high standard: the two counterpoint each other skillfully, generating duo drone-bowing trade-offs of subtly escalating intensity, and the playing is thoughtful, intelligent and erudite throughout."



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