Review by snobb

Leo Records founder and owner one-time professional high-jumper Russian Jew and former Soviet Union-immigrant to Israel and later to Britain Leo Feigin (real name Alexey Leonidov) made his name in early 80s releasing Soviet underground artists recordings in the West (many of materials were collected by him during his visits of former homeland and illegally crossed “Iron Curtain” since such kind of music never has been legal in Communist Empire. His biggest success were very first releases of Lithuanian Ganelin Trio, who at one moment became hottest collective coming from Eastern part of Europe, or even from all Europe (on the wave of upcoming “Perestroika” – are someone around who still remember what does it means?). Established in UK in 1979, the label later became a prolific producer of avant-garde jazz albums from all-world artists.With big respect for Leo’s (the man and the label) activities on early stage, I personally have been quite often disappointed with their releases. Working exclusively with already recorded materials,Leo releases lot of music (very often recorded by well-known artists)using it just “as it is” – without serious editing,with very varied sound and mix quality,etc. All these collections of out-takes,rehearsal and concerts board-recordings often have importance for collectors,but can disappoint fan searching for well recorded valuable album. Still sometimes Leo brings as music which would be hardly released anywhere else, and part of it is really valuable.

“Triotone” is one of such albums, unique trio live recordings, coming from small place (even not a town – just village) in Vojevodina,Northern province of Serbia. After-Yugoslavian Serbia is hardly a jazz-heaven, even if there exists some regular jazz festivals and few bigger jazz concerts happens every year(as rule its are fusion or more mainstream jazz you can here there). At the same time in Kanizsa (or Magyarkanizsa,how local Hungarian minority call this place) year after year some world-level advanced jazz grands come to play on annual fest,organized by local Hungarians,most Western-oriented nation in all Serbia.

Even if one of living legends sax player Anthony Braxton is stated as trio’s leader (what is understandable from marketing point of view), this album is mostly Hungarian pianist and composer Gyorgy Szabados brainchild. Being almost unknown outside of his home-country,Gyorgy(who passed away in 2011) was Hungarian piano avant-garde god-father. Classically trained,he combined in his music so characteristic for Hungarian musicians Bartok-influence with European free jazz tradition and Transylvanian folklore roots.All music on this album (including 32-minutes long opener Trioton) is written by Szabados (and differently from many free jazz mostly improvisational recordings music here is really composed).Gyorgy plays his trademark technical but lyrical piano sounding close to chamber music.

There is no need to introduce Braxton – but this album has some exclusivity touch: during many years if not decades one can hardly find any recordings where Anthony doesn’t play as leader, and even more – play music,composed by other musician. All that one can find on “Triotone” and it’s really very interesting how Braxton sounds as sax player – collaborator.

If Szabados and Braxton already had one album,recorded together some years ago, former Ganelin Trio’s drummer Vladimir Tarasov is new person here. His after-Trio career has been divided between drummer’s seat in Lithuanian Symphonic Orchestra,teaching in Vilnius Music Academy and developing multi-genre audio-visual installments art, still with regular playing in different (usually one-event) jazz-projects of untypical format. Vladimir made Vilnius his home when I was 5 (born and living in same town), since that time I had perfect possibility to evidence his musical development during bigger part of half-century. From Ganelin’s Trio free-jazz drummer he became free improvisational artist with unique his own techniques,which are not always all that related with jazz tradition.Here on “Triotone” he plays almost same music what he plays when illustrates cinematic video-installations in Modern Arts Center in Vilnius – quirky free-form but very fragile rhythmic soundscapes,which not always fits well to Braxton/Szabados quite massive musicianship, but from other hand with no doubt works as very surrealistic decorations. 

Musically, album is based around it’s opener – 32-minutes long Szabados “Trioton” suite, well-composed in Gyorgy’s Bartok-plus-Magyarfolk manner, quite chamber,lyrical and melodic,with dramatic touch.Still Braxton’s surprisingly fresh and active sax improvisation over piano sound and mega-layered Tarasov rhythmic constructions decompose suite making it a composition of avant-garde jazz, not chamber piece anymore. Four rest compositions (little more than 20 minutes long both together) are just nice miniatures adding some accents but has no chance to overweight concert’s opener.

Recorded sound is quite good (as for filed recording),Szabados piano playing is one of his top. Braxton sax soloing takes less that everyone would like to have, but he demonstrates excellent form on its. Tarasov’s drumming doesn’t always really fit,but his originality compensate it.In all – really interesting work, partially for Braxton “jazzy” side fans, but even more for those who can find out for themselves such possibly new names as pianist Gyorgy Szabados and drummer Vladimir Tarasov.