This CD from the uncompromising Italian label Silta is one of their most challenging releases. The album consists of nine duets between the double bass of Dini and the tenor and baritone saxophones and bass clarinet of Actis Dato. The latter has something of an avant-garde pedigree whereas Dini is normally heard in more straightforward mainstream or contemporary contexts.
The music on "Out" is mainly in the realms of improvisation or "instant composition" as its practitioners like to refer to it. However, it is not totally "free" as there is an underlying framework of ideas and composition behind their explorations. This means that the music, although challenging, is always listenable. It never descends into the cacophony and tunelessness that can sometimes blight avant-garde or improvised music.
Snatches of melody abound throughout the album and the interaction between the players is remarkable. It is a true partnership. Actis Dato never drowns out his colleague whilst Dini keeps everything grounded and gives a solid foundation to Actis Dato's flights of fancy and kerbs any urges the saxophonist may have towards avant-garde excess.
The range of sounds Actis Dato produces from his instruments is remarkable ranging from basic r'n'b honking to almost impossibly high register bat like squeaks and all points in between. He deploys circular breathing, overblowing, Roland Kirk like vocal intonations and percussive effects with the pads. It is an astonishing display of technique, in which his rich, dark bass clarinet is particularly effective.
Dini is the perfect foil for this tour de force. His bass playing is equally versatile ranging from straight ahead walking bass to complicated Charlie Haden type figures and dark and atmospheric use of the bow.
Ornette Coleman seems to exert a particularly strong influence on Italian jazz musicians. The title track "Out" is based on the Coleman composition "Law Years" and his spirit informs the rest of the CD.
There is much to enjoy on this album with some fine playing from both musicians. They never lose sense of the underlying melody and the variety of sounds, moods and textures ensures that the music is always of interest.
This is a challenging record and not for the faint hearted, but there is much here to reward the adventurous listener.
Silta Records: SR0401
Review by Ian Mann