The distinguished confraternity of soprano saxophone recognizes Udo Schindler and Frank Paul Schubert as two eminent representatives, as demonstrated by these recordings (Munich, January 2015). The instrument is historically linked to the melodically graspable features of jazz (just think Steve Lacy, or Wayne Shorter for that matter), whereas its sopranino derivation represents to this day a trademark guide light within the wonderful complexities of Lindsay Cooper’s compositions. These are only random examples, helpful to recall the mind’s penchant to greet this particular sound with a degree of warmth.
But when the same source is employed for free improvisation, one has to face an altogether different set of issues. Two artists exploring the identical ranges of equal reeds run a concrete risk of saturating the very tree from which the fruits of their creativity should be harvested. The shrilling qualities of the harmonics and the tendency to repeatedly cross paths during talkative segments can originate a number of aural conflicts. Still, through the analysis of the relations between those apparently clashing characteristics we can find a wealth of movements, slight shifts and intrinsic rhythms. In essence, the “life inside the texture” that becomes manifest via shimmering auras and quivering flows of particles capable of transforming obstreperous spurts into undeniable art.
In this regard, Schindler and Schubert present a clear example of how things ought to work. Their phrasing is often immaculate, if ready to break into shards at any moment. They fundamentally retain a conversational demeanor across 44 minutes of stimulating music, privileging open-mindedness over bombast while looking for solutions with an optimal freedom/composure ratio. There’s no problem in perforating the eardrums via piercing unisons, either. This duo may embrace humor, but never frivolousness; their moderately caustic sagacity emerges with the passage of time.