Up And Out is an improvising group founded by reed player Harri Sjostrom in 2009. Basically, it’s Sjostrom and whoever he has invited to play with him in a “Present – Time – Composing” project. This Up And Out release consists of music recorded at a concert at Galerie Nord in Berlin in January, 2018. This time Sjostrom invit- ed an international assemblage: violinist / electronics Philipp Wachsmann, a veteran of Britain’s free improvis- ing scene since the 1970s, Mexican vibraphonist Emilio Gordoa and Norwegian drummer Dag Magnus Navesen who recorded with Sjostrom in the Move Quintet and German bassist Matthias Bauer has played with him in various groupings. Suffice it to say that these musicians’ paths have crossed with each other at some point over the past few years. And the listener is fortunate that this particular aggregation has been assembled.
Basically, the group freely improvised over four lengthy tracks. While the final track “Three Draft Pistons” is credited to Wachsmann, it is an “update” of a piece he wrote in 1980 that involved improvising musicians to play over pre-recorded electronic sounds.
What makes this recording so good is the instrumentation Sjostrom assembled. The presence
of Wachsmann’s violin and Gordoa’s vibes are unique textures in improvised units. The music is spacious, intricate and well-detailed. Part of it is due to the instrumentation. But another major part is that these
are seasoned players from this milieu and don’t feel the need to say everything at once. On the opening track, Sjostrom, the leader, doesn’t play until the three-minute mark and then while his entry is quiet and subtle, it’s
also very dramatic. Throughout the four pieces the music swells and ebbs like the best free improvisation and there’s always something interesting happening, whether it be a unique textural interlude, a hidden “melody”
that appears from the violin, a rhythmic element that suddenly emerges and then, just as abruptly disappears. Because of that it’s a recording this listener feels compelled to put on regularly. Up And Out is a very worthwhile endeavor.