CD STONES "unüberhörbar spitze" in JAZZ'N'MORE, 2016
Roland Dahinden, Hildegard Kleeb: Stones
Trombonist Roland Dahinden and Hildegard Kleeb do the music of free improvisation proud in their splendid new set of works collectively entitled Stones. In fine tradition the duo make a lasting impression of deeply integrated performances that flow naturally as if the music were being created on the spot. Both Dahinden and Kleeb speak from within; they listen to where each other is going and align themselves instantaneously to where his and her direction. They can be engagingly rustic and emotionally deep, as in the ‘Territory’ pieces, or breathe fiery dialogues into the lithe lines of ‘Flying White’ along unconventional lines. Their handling of ‘Trajectory’ is thrilling. Without sacrificing power or speed, they mine the unconventionally lyrical vein of the series of pieces throughout with expressive gestures that liberate the music’s ebb and flow.
As composers of this repertoire both Roland Dahinden and Hildegard Kleeb are unafraid to reflect aspects of their primordial surroundings in their music depicting a location that it is at once harsh and atmospheric. The result is music that manages to strike a balance between the highly experimental and the deeply expressive. In the ten works on this disc, each score or movement has a title not only numerically differentiating it from its (numerical) counterpart, but also one that points the listener in the direction of a wholly new facet of the rocky promontory about which this topographical tale is all about. The results of each of the score are suffused with vivid, molten surprises. These scores are strikingly evocations of Dahinden’s and Kleeb’s fertile impressionistic minds and each musical locale is an improvisation that drives a musical epiphany.
There is no gratuitous virtuosity here. Both Dahinden and Kleeb show utmost commitment to the expressive needs of the music, its visceral rhythm and frieze-like melody. These are sterling accounts in every way. Dahinden’s penetrating timbre and keen attention to nuance ensure that all of the music emerges with vibrant purpose, beautifully balanced by the dashing poetry by Kleeb’s pianism. The tricky balance between instruments, especially when the trombone dips into its lowest range, is never an issue – a manifestation both of the musician’s sensitivity and microphone placement that doesn’t allow one instrument to swallow the other. Best of all, the distinctive voices of each of the musicians keeps the listener enveloped in the performances as Dahinden and Kleeb use their inestimable artistic gifts to summon what was in the landscape that they ‘sing’ about so memorably.
(Raul da Gama in JazzDaGama, Canada, 2016)
Das Duo Dahinden/Kleeb improvisiert mit Vehemenz und Einfühlsamkeit.
Manchmal braucht man in diesen zuhörens verloungenden und verkitschenden Zeiten schlicht diese kurzgestische, energiegeladene Art des Musizierens: prägnante, steinharte, kantige Klänge, die einen unmittelbar ansprechen, ohne Wenn und Aber, ohne Verwinklungen und Hemmnisse und ohne jede Anbiederung. Und gleich darauf fragt man sich: Wie machen die das? So in oft rasantem Tempo die Klangsteine ins Spiel zu werfen, ohne dass ein Durcheinander entsteht ...
Dahinter steckt, simpel gesagt, lebenslange Einübung. Der Posaunist Roland Dahinden und die Pianistin Hildegard Kleeb, seit dreissig Jahren im Leben wie in der Musik ein Paar, improvisieren auf dieser CD zusammen; man spürt in jedem Moment, wie vertraut sie miteinander sind, wie selbstverständlich die musikalischen Bewegungen sich ineinanderfügen. (Es bedarf schliesslich noch eines dritten zuverlässigen Partners: des Labels HatHut, das seit Jahrzehnten die Aufnahmen der beiden Musiker veröffentlicht.) Unterschiedliche Prägungen kommen hier zusammen, einmal durch die Neue Musik, aber auch durch den Jazz, in klaren, aber auch in verfremdeten Farben.
Stones – Steine nennen die beiden Musiker das zu Recht. Und um einer Assoziation gleich zuvorzukommen: Mit Steinen sind keine Juwelen gemeint; wir haben es hier mit Rohlingen zu tun, die ihre geologische Herkunft nicht verleugnen, die nicht geschmeidig der Dekoration dienen, sondern ihre Härte beweisen. Nicht nur, wenn sie ins Rollen geraten und mit Vehemenz und eruptiver Kraft daherjagen – sondern auch, wenn sie ruhig daliegen. Wunderbar, wie einfühlsam sich etwa im ruhigen Stück Flying White die Klänge ineinanderfügen, nuanciert und geräuschhaft, rein und roh. Sie stammen aus der Tiefe.
(Schweizer Musikzeitung, Thomas Meyer, 30.11.2016)
Roland Dahinden & Hildegard Kleeb
is a mega-slow burner. But what seemed rather a dull disc, finally pulled me in – though it remains a puzzle, a riddle wrapped in an enigma even. Husband and wife team Roland Dahinden on trombone, and Hildegard Kleeb on piano, have worked together for decades, realising celebrated performances of Cage and Feldman, and working with Anthony Braxton. Here they're in free improvisation mode, with some rocky themes. "We have an Alpine hideout," Dahinden explains, "a wooden box on the Alp Gitschenen in the central part of Switzerland... The rocky landscape is very inspiring for us".
Stones takes its cue from Japanese art and Zen Buddhist garden culture, in fact. The playing is virtuoso, though at first there seemed something too precise about it, a suspicion of being too thought-out. But though the results might be too cool and non-emotional for some listeners, doubts are overcome as the music draws one in.
"Stones", "Trajectory" and "Territory" pieces are interleaved – the first of these are slow, the others uptempo. For some reason "Trajectory 1" and "Territory 1" don't appear. On "Trajectory 2", Kleeb works inside the piano, I'd guess, damping the strings by hand. "Stones 3" explores a small range of tones, quietly and obsessively, creating a feeling of great stillness, while "Trajectory 4" shows a tightly-restrained fury. "Flying White" – a unique category – is another slow piece, named after a brush technique that creates wide, ribbon-like lines. Here, the trombone begins like arco bass, becoming vocalised like the deathly croaks of an Australian crow.
"Stones 4" is a really outstanding track – the trombone's almost toneless murmurings, against what sound like sustained piano glissandos that undermine the effects of tone, creates an air of great mystery and menace, rather reminiscent of the work of George Crumb. In Dahinden's strongly vocalised trombone, the New Orleans/Ellington tradition is a distant memory.
(WIRE Jazz Magazine, October 2016, Andy Hamilton)
CD STONES – Dahinden-Kleeb
Companions in life and musical inquiry, trombonist Roland Dahinden and pianist Hildegard Kleeb have navigated the arenas of new and improvised music together for over thirty years. Dedicated industry across those decades included lauded projects dealing with music of John Cage, Morton Feldman and Anthony Braxton alongside more personal performances, although the impetus of a recording career came comparatively late in 2012. Stones is a partial summation
of their sound research as a team, a program of ten selections drawn primarily from three separate improvisational series designated by numerical sequences and single-word titles.
The thematic locus of the set relates to the couple’s shared rustic home in a relatively remote region of the Alps where they’ve developed a communal language influenced in part by the natural topography of their surroundings. “Stones” “Territories” and “Trajectories” serve as the titular vessels for improvisation. Each series seeks to describe and embody facets of the physical attributes of the alpine landscape through extemporaneous sound with the former also informed by features of Japanese rock gardens. The abstraction of the sensory attributes of physical space into musical expression is no easy task and duo makes ample use of extended techniques on their instruments to achieve results.
“Stones 1” joins strangely strident yet muted piano tones with legato shapes from Dahinden that almost sound like an arco bass in places. Echo and decay factor in heavily as well and the result is a floating, diaphanous sound structure that emits
a vague feeling of menace and mystery. “Trajectory 2” contrasts sharply as effusive yet brittle brass shouts and whistles bounce repeatedly off a similarly agitated display from Kleeb’s stabbing keys. “Flying White” is different still and the only piece not aligned with the aforementioned series. Here, Dahinden and Kleeb seek to translate the tenor of a Japanese painting technique in aural terms with overlapping lines weighing delicacy and density in an uneasy alliance.
Whether measured with the intended topical context or not, Dahinden and Kleeb’s designs demonstrate a striking degree
of synergy and resolve. There are moments where the weave between their respective contributions is almost Gordian in its cohesiveness. “Trajectory 3” balances rapid loquacious activity with a clearly discernible arc of inquiry as Dahinden speaks in veritable tongues through his horn and Kleeb delivers a near-constant barrage of flinty right hand retorts. “Stones 3” and “Stones 4” unfold as the near-opposite, a vaporous tone poems that move at glacial crawl with acoustic girth and texture replacing velocity. That combing of seemingly contradictory constituencies informs the majority of pieces and keeps them
in a both figurative and musical sense from gathering even a modicum of moss.
(Dusted Magazine, Derek Taylor, June 15, 2016)