CD Reviews

PST – Live in Rome

April 29, 2013


An unexpected release this one, a 2005 recording of the Prévost/Tilbury incarnation of AMM alongside an Italian trombonist named Giancarlo Schiaffini, released this year under the trio name PST on an Italian label that seems to primarily release DVDs featuring artists as diverse as Oscar Wilde, Bruce Springsteen and David Bowie. A curious arrival then, but the forty-five minute piece here makes this one well worth tracking down. If we know how the AMM duo will sound, Schiaffini’s trombone is new to me. He is frequently active, mixing bubbling little notes and occasional swooping attacks with lighter breathy sounds and more brittle, metallically muted sections, but while his playing touches on the busier, more talkative end of improvisation he never feels too much here. If barely a minute ever passes without a contribution from Schiaffini he still leaves plenty of space throughout, and his light, non-aggresive playing is acutely fitted around Prévost and Tilbury, who are both on top form here.

AMM do what AMM do here, but this is actually a fine performance of them playing in the style I prefer- with John Tilbury playing more than the accompanist role, frequently leading the way with excursions in and out of the piano that range from the usual sudden crashes, little repeated arpeggios and unusually, at one point a section of floaty melodic clouds that overwhelm everything else. Eddie Prévost is far more restrained than later duo discs have allowed him to be, laying off the heavy use of bowed metals he has worked with over recent years and adding softer colours through struck sounds and carefully pitched tones. All together its a light, neatly structured affair that never really utilises the arcing patterns of AMM recordings. I am reminded of the Such release from years back which paired Prévost and Tilbury with the shakuhachi of Yoshikazu Iwamoto, not because the trombone here is anything like the shakuhachi but because of the way the three musicians allow light to shine through the music, building fragile weblike structures that are beautiful without ever overpowering anything. Live in Rome is an exceptionally easy and enjoyable disc to follow. Its forty five minutes seem to just fly past. This is exceptional acoustic improvisation then, beautiful, expertly crafted work and a very worthwhile addition to the collection of any AMM follower.

Comments (2)

  • simon reynell

    April 29, 2013 at 8:55 am

    Hadn’t heard of this one, and will have to add it to the list of things to pick up when I have some spare cash.
    So, a bit of nerdy stuff to start the morning:
    Schiaffini has been around for ages across a range of genres, and you probably will have heard him before on something or other. I think that most of his output is at the free jazz /’ talkative’ improv end of things, but he also crops up on a handful of CDs I have by contemporary Italian composers, most notably perhaps on tuba on some of Nono’s late pieces. He was one of the instrumentalists who Nono had in mind when he wrote some of his late works, hence there being tuba parts in a few of them. I think Schiaffini gave the premiere of ‘Post-Prae-Ludium per Donau’, Nono’s 1987 piece for tuba and live electronics, and Schiaffini’s recording of it on the now defunct Dischi Ricordi label remains my favourite, even though Robin Hayward told me that he sometimes gets things wrong.
    He also released a solo CD on Random Acoustics – ‘Tuba Libre’, though as I recall, it’s far from my favourite release on that very fine but also now defunct label. And he appears in a trombone-heavy quintet (along with George Lewis and Paul Rutherford) on the ‘Pisa 1980 improvisors’ symposium’ disc which came out on LP on Incus, and was re-released as a double CD on Evan Parker’s psi label.
    So he must have an impressive-looking CV, even if he’s never made it into the encyclopaedic Pinnell consciousness.

  • Richard Pinnell

    April 29, 2013 at 9:43 pm

    OK know it all, I checked, and yes I have one disc involving Schiaffini, indeed performing Nono’s Post-Prae-Ludium per Donau on the Col Legno set of chamber works. Think that’s the only one though.

    I wonder why he didn’t play tuba on this disc? Tuba with AMM would have been an odd if intriguing grouping.

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