Giancarlo Locatelli and Alberto Braida have been a regularly working clarinet and piano duo since 1996, but in Smonta Tutto — their trio with Bay Area percussionist Gino Robair — they try to “unbuild everything” (which is the English translation of the group’s Italian name). This is fractured free jazz. While rooted in jazz tonalities and syncopated rhythms, the music is always disintegrating into sparser and quieter explorations.
For fifty minutes, the band bends, splinters, and promises full-out free jazz, but never quite delivers. Then comes the turning point: a track called “The misterious race,” which starts off slow and dismal, with droning bell tones, bass clarinet multiphonics, and punctuational piano chords. It gets cooking when the piano and clarinet start trading fast lines, propelled by rolling drums.
Tutto’s methodology is most apparent on its lengthiest exploration”A testa in giù.” On this track, the improvisers extend beyond the traditional roles of their instruments. Robair plays long tones, blowing through a metal tube held against a drum head, and bowing a flat stick. The tonal instrumentalists assume percussive roles: Locatelli exchanges his clarinet for bells, while Braida crashes objects around the inside of his piano. The music drops to near silence. In the most literal example of “unbuilding,” Locatelli plays a feeble, strained fanfare on his clarinet sans mouthpiece. The musicians push aside their training and egos, and create pure, primitive, free music. It’s completely transfixing. (Rastascan)