Today’s Sounds: Alberto Braida and Giancarlo Locatelli

Pianist Alberto Braida and clarinetist Giancarlo Locatelli improvise and compose on their ninth record together, PLUS a track by NYC quintet Caveman and a NSFW video by Foals, set in a (literally) seedy Eastern European dive.


Alberto Braida and Giancarlo Locatelli, Nel Margine (Red Toucan)

Pianist Alberto Braida and clarinetist Giancarlo Locatelli have been performing together since 1996, and this is the ninth time the pair has appeared on the same record, in formations ranging from duo to quintet. Given the long history, it’s not surprising to discover the elevated levels of telepathy on display here.
Locatelli plays both the B flat horn as well as bass clarinet. His melodic contours reveal the influence of another straight horn player, legendary soprano saxophonist Steve Lacy, with whom Locatelli recorded in the early ’90s. Like Lacy, Locatelli favours long streams of twisted melodies, although Locatelli eschews Lacy’s obsession with extracting every possibility from a single line, moving on to the next idea more quickly. While the duo at times reminds of Lacy’s longstanding collaboration with pianist Mal Waldron, Braida tends towards a lighter left-hand touch.
With five tracks composed by Braida, another five from Locatelli and one freely improvised, the CD presents an ideal case study of composition vs. improvisation, and invites a comparison of compositional styles.
Braida is the more compact of the two, his songs averaging just over 4 minutes while Locatelli’s are closer to six. Braida employs more conventional head-improvisation-head arrangements, while Locatelli explores experimental sonorities. Regardless of format, there is  little parallel play and no extended techniques or noise, but lots of tight piano comping to Locatelli’s continuous flows of angular ideas.
Several songs feature phrases that hint at jazz standards. Locatelli’s “The Hat” could be a reference to the Charles Mingus tribute to Lester Young, “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat.” Braida’s “Once It Was the Colour of Saying” was named after and inspired by a Dylan Thomas poem.  “Camminare Api” is Italian for walking bees, and while the bass clarinet buzzes some low drones that might have suggested the title, the tune itself would not be out of place in a Monk set as interpreted by Lacy.
“Dal Margine” is the improvised work, and while noticeably looser and faster paced than the compositions, still results in close communication. Jazz fans who dislike the lengthy stretches of searching for common terrain that can occur in improvised music will revel in the high peak-to-seek ratio.


Caveman, “Over My Head”

New York quintet Caveman leave Earth’s atmosphere on this cool, spacey jam. Their eponymous sophomore album is out April 2 on Fat Possum.



Foals, “Late Night”

The third single from Foals’ Holy Fire gets a video (directed by “Nabil”) set in a sleazy urban inn of some sort, in a place where the Cyrillic alphabet is a thing (my guess: Grozny). The band plays to a roomful of mafia dudes while sex, childbirth and auto-erotic kicks go down in the rooms upstairs. It’s NSFW, unless you W in a cool place.

Foals play Club Soda on May 10.

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