Subtle Degrees – “A Dance That Empties” (NNA Tapes, 2018)

“A Dance That Empties” was released on February 23, 2018 by “NNA Tapes” label. This interesting and expressive experimental jazz album was recorded by two outstanding jazz improvisers – Travis Laplante (tenor saxophone) and Gerald Cleaver (drums). These two musicians are individual and original jazz masters. Their improvisations are based on experimental jazz basics, musical experiments, searches for special effects and unusual sounds and synthesis with other jazz styles. Though, the basic elements of avant-garde jazz, especially creative and free-jazz, form the basics of these two musicians improvisations, there’s also an effort of other music styles. Bebop, post-bop, hard-bop, cool, fusion and other modern jazz styles intonations and elements are gently combined together. There also are the intonations of experimental music, academic avant-garde and various intonations of other modern academical music intonations, which are heard soft and subtly. The improvising style of both musicians makes an effort to whole sound of their improvisations. Collective improvisations are always based on free structure, are filled with energetic, turbulent and wild bursts of energy, spontaneous and creative solos and unpredictable stylistic waves.

This album compositions have especially dynamic, active and energetic sound. The duet of masterful avant-garde jazz improvisers tries out many different playing techniques, their music is consisted of different musical expressions and have especially bright musical language. Three long improvisations are full of different and sudden stylistic waves ancd turns, spontaneous and dynamic solos, expressive, vivid and passionate melodies, subtle and soft episodes – all these and many other elements are gently and effectively fused together in one place. The compositions have bright, solid and independent melodic and rhythmic patterns, which are highly contrasting with each other. Tenor saxophone melodies by Travis Laplant are filled with huge amount of different expresisons, playing techniques, masterful, creative and wild fast improvisations and other elements. His melodies have especially energetic, active, rapid and effective sound. The improviser has a tendency to use repetitive and monotonic melodic elements, which are monotonously repeated from time to time. Expressive, vivacious, vivid, striking and pssionate sound is created with wild fast and furious solos, masterful virtuosity, extremely active and vivacious passages, monotonic and repetitive melodic and rhythmic elements, huge range of different playing techniques. The steady and constant repeating of melodic and rhytjmic elements bring the intonations of academical music, especially – basic elements of minimalistic music. Minimalism and other contemporary academical music styles create monotonic and meditative sound, which are connected together with free and creative collective improvisations, turbulent and furious solos, expressive and passionate solos. Tenor saxophone improvisations have marvelous, expressive, dynamic and interesting sound. Gerald Cleaver drums improvisations are highly contrasting with tenor saxophone improvisations – it’s based on dynamic and continuosly changing rhythmic, expressive sound, huge range of different playing techniques and unusual timbres. His improvisations are completely based on free jazz, creative and other experimental jazz styles elements and intonations – the improviser is playing active, dynamically, expressively and with passion. Monotonic and slow drum solos, powerful, fast, active and rapid drum rolls, very fast and speedy trills, arpeggios, especially virtuosic passages, original and huge range of colorful and gorgeous percussion contain the main basic of his improvisations. Both musicians are improvising creatively, expressively and vivid – by using various playing techniques, bright and expressive musical language, free and spontaneous solos and other musical expressions they create original and dynamic sound.


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