Simpatico – Reviewed by Peter Wockner
Limelight Magazine (ABC)
This is a duo set of musical conversations. In the context of compatible spontaneous improvisation, listening to each other goes hand in hand with creation. The Sydney reedmen listened intently as they played on this balancing act of atonal freedom and melodical motifs. Foreshadowing, foxing and reaching for the unknown without compromising on melody, some of which are influenced by their tenure with Eastern European flavored group Mara! Cutlan plays tenor and E flat clarinet but predominantly with the bass clarinet, while Robson plays the straight man on alto.
Simpatico – reviewed by John Napier
Music Council of Australia
November 2007 – Jan 2008
Unaccompanied duets between two primarily melodic instruments are a rarity, and pose problems of texture and continuity which are dealt with by both artistry and remarkable spontaneous invention on this recording by two leading modern jazz players. This disc draws heavily on eclecticism of both performers: swinging atonal, Balkan Neoclassical impressionism of the blues of Central Asia might describe just a few of its moments.
The largely diatonic opening of Lucette juxtaposes slow moving lines with extremely florid passagework, reminiscent of Greek wind playing. The piece develops toward a greater harmonic adventurousness and more intense polyphony, returns to a diatonic, antiphonal texture, before playing out as a florid clarinet solo. The more blues inflected Tag has a developed sense of playfulness, particularly as Cutlan pushes in the upper register of the bass clarinet. The instruments lower register establishes an almost banal feel for the following track, March into Oblivion, which then makes way for a moody, multiphonic soundscape. A subtle exorcism pervades The Mighty Khan, as if two Indian classical singers had visited 52nd Street.
There is much beauty in this recording for the listener most notably on Running Into Time, The Mighty Khan, parts of Quintessential and the sprawling Over the Hills and Far Away but also a fair degree of acid humour, which demands attentive listening. It is also an album which is instructional in its intelligent and sensitive interplay.
Simpatico – reviewed by John Shand
Sydney Morning Herald
August 25-26 2007
Just the thought of horns without accompaniment is enough to drive some people to distraction or at least out of the room. They should risk lingering a little. Andrew Robson and Paul Cutlan have been playing together for a dozen years, firstly in the Original Otto Orchestra and then with Mara! Their simpatico, always conspicuous, now flourishes on 11 improvised duets for Robson’s alto saxophone and Cutlan’s Eb and bass clarinets and tenor saxophone. There is nothing esoteric or “difficult” about this beautiful music. Texturally it is as abundant as a rainforest, with Cutlan’s bass clarinet being a garden of surprises all by itself. The fused musicality of the two players ensures the improvisations are never groping for ideas. Each piece is utterly distinctive in mood from the braying eastern carnival of The Mighty Khan to the boppish swoops of Running into Time.