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Mark Hanslip and Javier Carmona - Dosados Rating: 3-5 out of 5 Most significantly this is a musical conversation between equal partners. The duo manage to create a remarkably wide range of sounds and colours.

Mark Hanslip & Javier Carmona

“Dosados”

(Babel Records BDV 1192)

Saxophonist Mark Hanslip graduated from the Jazz course at Birmingham Conservatoire before moving to London some ten years ago. A highly versatile player Hanslip is a leading member of the increasingly influential Loop Collective and can play anything from straight-ahead jazz to free improvisation. In a career with too many credits to mention in full he has appeared in a wide range of contexts including lengthy spells with Loop bands Outhouse and the Alcyona Mick Quintet. Currently he is a member of Twelves, whose recent Babel release “The Adding Machine” is reviewed elsewhere on this site, and of guitarist Jonathan Bratoeff’s quartet (their album “Mindscapes” released on the F-ire label is also covered on The Jazzmann).

Since leaving Outhouse, where he has since been replaced by Tom Challenger, Hanslip has gravitated more closely to the world of free improvisation. One of his closest collaborators in this sphere is drummer Javier Carmona, originally from Madrid but now based in London. Carmona has played with many of London’s leading improvisers, among them Tony Bevan, Dominic Lash, Ashley Wales, Pat Thomas and John Edwards. He has also collaborated with bassist Olie Bryce’s quartet and saxophonist Rachel Musson’s group Skein (the latter’s “Flight Line” album is reviewed elsewhere on this site).

The music on “Dosados” is almost entirely spontaneous with ten improvisations by the duo, some of them little more than snippets. The only exception is a brief examination of the great Steve Lacy’s composition “Deadline”. As other observers, most notably John Fordham of The Guardian, have noted this music is less austere and forbidding than much free improv. Hanslip’s bebop roots impart the music with a melodic quality that is never lost no matter how deeply the duo probes. Also, given the relatively meagre resources of just tenor saxophone and drums/percussion, the duo manage to create a remarkably wide range of sounds and colours, these in turn giving the album a broader emotional range than might first have been envisaged. Most significantly this is a musical conversation between equal partners, this isn’t a case of the saxophonist blasting away and the drummer desperately trying to keep up. 

Opener “O Pointy Pointy” is a nineteen second snippet of percolating percussion and fluttering saxophone. It acts as the precursor to “Mucha Mierda” which features Hanslip’s tenor over Carmona’s busy drum and percussion undertow.  Hanslip’s improvisations are tightly controlled and essentially melodic, Carmona’s drumming, including a lengthy solo interlude, is consistently colourful and interesting and utilises the full range of the conventional drum kit plus an array of other percussive devices. Further evidence of these can be heard on the brief “Nipple 1” which also includes Hanslip’s subtle multiphonics.

“Preambolo to Nipple 2” (the duo seem to have bit of a fixation with this particular body part, but hey, don’t we all?) is perhaps the album’s most notable track. It’s been lifted from the album to appear on compilations given away with both Jazzwise and Wire magazines. It starts with Hanslip sounding as if he’s about to break into a standard but Carmona gently steers him into more exploratory territory before subtly shadowing Hanslip’s saxophonic musings. The mood varies from the busy and garrulous to the mysterious and minimal. There are brief hints of the Middle East in Hanslip’s upper register, and spacey, atmospheric overblown multiphonics.

“Boules” features Hanslip’s circular breathing above the colourful rolling thunder of Carmona’s drums, but it’s not just a technical exercise, the piece has atmosphere and emotional depth too. The following “Horse-y” is as playful as its title suggests.

“ffs” begins heavy on atmosphere with exotic percussion and almost implausibly deep saxophone murmurings as Hanslip explores the outer limits of his instrument. Later there’s a more belligerent exchange of ideas as the pair battle it out in more orthodox improv fashion.

The Lacy piece fits right in with the rest of the album, Hanslip’s tentative sax probing and Carmona’s scuffling and scraping sound fully improvised anyway. The following “The filler” begins by exploring similar territory but expands into more animated dialogue with Carmona’s drums sometimes taking the lead. His playing is particularly colourful here utilising all parts of the kit.

The title of “Jowls, and a Beard” immediately brought to mind Eric Dolphy’s Monk tribute “Hat and Beard”,  but if the duo’s improvisation is indeed a tribute the name of the recipient is kept well under wraps. The piece itself is bustling and restless and goes through a variety of phases deploying techniques from circular breathing to multiphonics. The edgy activity of the early exchanges eventually gives way to a more abstract and atmospheric final section.

That sense of abstraction is carried over into the closing “Third Nipple,with Coda” which begins in near silence and with little apparent structure. The improvisation unfolds slowly, heavily atmospheric but with snatches of melody drifting in and out of focus. Hanslip’s sound is consistently bleary with Carmona’s percussion providing comment and punctuation rather than any obvious rhythm. In some ways this is a microcosm of his role throughout the rest of the album. There are no examples of orthodox jazz drumming yet Carmona’s use of pulse, texture and colour and the wide range of sounds he draws upon fascinate throughout. He’s the perfect foil for Hanslip’s melodic take on the methodology of free improv. The saxophonist always sounds in control and his technique, both traditional and extended, is exceptional throughout.

Less forbidding than many other recordings in this sphere “Dosados” would make a good “toe in the water” album for curious listeners wishing to learn more about the world of free improv, a point made very eloquently by Mr. Fordham in his Guardian review. That’s not to say that it’s an easy listen (or an easy record to write about for that matter) but nevertheless there is much here for the adventurous, but not yet totally committed, listener to enjoy.

Dosados

Mark Hanslip and Javier Carmona

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Reviewed by: Ian Mann

Album Review

3-5 out of 5

Dosados

Most significantly this is a musical conversation between equal partners. The duo manage to create a remarkably wide range of sounds and colours.

Mark Hanslip & Javier Carmona

“Dosados”

(Babel Records BDV 1192)

Saxophonist Mark Hanslip graduated from the Jazz course at Birmingham Conservatoire before moving to London some ten years ago. A highly versatile player Hanslip is a leading member of the increasingly influential Loop Collective and can play anything from straight-ahead jazz to free improvisation. In a career with too many credits to mention in full he has appeared in a wide range of contexts including lengthy spells with Loop bands Outhouse and the Alcyona Mick Quintet. Currently he is a member of Twelves, whose recent Babel release “The Adding Machine” is reviewed elsewhere on this site, and of guitarist Jonathan Bratoeff’s quartet (their album “Mindscapes” released on the F-ire label is also covered on The Jazzmann).

Since leaving Outhouse, where he has since been replaced by Tom Challenger, Hanslip has gravitated more closely to the world of free improvisation. One of his closest collaborators in this sphere is drummer Javier Carmona, originally from Madrid but now based in London. Carmona has played with many of London’s leading improvisers, among them Tony Bevan, Dominic Lash, Ashley Wales, Pat Thomas and John Edwards. He has also collaborated with bassist Olie Bryce’s quartet and saxophonist Rachel Musson’s group Skein (the latter’s “Flight Line” album is reviewed elsewhere on this site).

The music on “Dosados” is almost entirely spontaneous with ten improvisations by the duo, some of them little more than snippets. The only exception is a brief examination of the great Steve Lacy’s composition “Deadline”. As other observers, most notably John Fordham of The Guardian, have noted this music is less austere and forbidding than much free improv. Hanslip’s bebop roots impart the music with a melodic quality that is never lost no matter how deeply the duo probes. Also, given the relatively meagre resources of just tenor saxophone and drums/percussion, the duo manage to create a remarkably wide range of sounds and colours, these in turn giving the album a broader emotional range than might first have been envisaged. Most significantly this is a musical conversation between equal partners, this isn’t a case of the saxophonist blasting away and the drummer desperately trying to keep up. 

Opener “O Pointy Pointy” is a nineteen second snippet of percolating percussion and fluttering saxophone. It acts as the precursor to “Mucha Mierda” which features Hanslip’s tenor over Carmona’s busy drum and percussion undertow.  Hanslip’s improvisations are tightly controlled and essentially melodic, Carmona’s drumming, including a lengthy solo interlude, is consistently colourful and interesting and utilises the full range of the conventional drum kit plus an array of other percussive devices. Further evidence of these can be heard on the brief “Nipple 1” which also includes Hanslip’s subtle multiphonics.

“Preambolo to Nipple 2” (the duo seem to have bit of a fixation with this particular body part, but hey, don’t we all?) is perhaps the album’s most notable track. It’s been lifted from the album to appear on compilations given away with both Jazzwise and Wire magazines. It starts with Hanslip sounding as if he’s about to break into a standard but Carmona gently steers him into more exploratory territory before subtly shadowing Hanslip’s saxophonic musings. The mood varies from the busy and garrulous to the mysterious and minimal. There are brief hints of the Middle East in Hanslip’s upper register, and spacey, atmospheric overblown multiphonics.

“Boules” features Hanslip’s circular breathing above the colourful rolling thunder of Carmona’s drums, but it’s not just a technical exercise, the piece has atmosphere and emotional depth too. The following “Horse-y” is as playful as its title suggests.

“ffs” begins heavy on atmosphere with exotic percussion and almost implausibly deep saxophone murmurings as Hanslip explores the outer limits of his instrument. Later there’s a more belligerent exchange of ideas as the pair battle it out in more orthodox improv fashion.

The Lacy piece fits right in with the rest of the album, Hanslip’s tentative sax probing and Carmona’s scuffling and scraping sound fully improvised anyway. The following “The filler” begins by exploring similar territory but expands into more animated dialogue with Carmona’s drums sometimes taking the lead. His playing is particularly colourful here utilising all parts of the kit.

The title of “Jowls, and a Beard” immediately brought to mind Eric Dolphy’s Monk tribute “Hat and Beard”,  but if the duo’s improvisation is indeed a tribute the name of the recipient is kept well under wraps. The piece itself is bustling and restless and goes through a variety of phases deploying techniques from circular breathing to multiphonics. The edgy activity of the early exchanges eventually gives way to a more abstract and atmospheric final section.

That sense of abstraction is carried over into the closing “Third Nipple,with Coda” which begins in near silence and with little apparent structure. The improvisation unfolds slowly, heavily atmospheric but with snatches of melody drifting in and out of focus. Hanslip’s sound is consistently bleary with Carmona’s percussion providing comment and punctuation rather than any obvious rhythm. In some ways this is a microcosm of his role throughout the rest of the album. There are no examples of orthodox jazz drumming yet Carmona’s use of pulse, texture and colour and the wide range of sounds he draws upon fascinate throughout. He’s the perfect foil for Hanslip’s melodic take on the methodology of free improv. The saxophonist always sounds in control and his technique, both traditional and extended, is exceptional throughout.

Less forbidding than many other recordings in this sphere “Dosados” would make a good “toe in the water” album for curious listeners wishing to learn more about the world of free improv, a point made very eloquently by Mr. Fordham in his Guardian review. That’s not to say that it’s an easy listen (or an easy record to write about for that matter) but nevertheless there is much here for the adventurous, but not yet totally committed, listener to enjoy.


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