Paul Plimley / Barry Guy - "Sensology", Maya

Mats Gustafsson / Barry Guy - "Frogging", Maya

To say that bassist Barry Guy loves the duo format would be an understatement. His proven ventures with Evan Parker, Maya Homburger, Barre Phillips, Peter Kowald, and others have all confirmed the duo format works great. Why else would he explore this channel of expression so often?

Barry Guy has played with Paul Plimley before, when he performed with Vancouver's renowned NOW Orchestra on "Witch Gong Game II/10" [Maya Recordings]. While that project involved a large scale ensemble, "Sensology" [recorded in Vancouver in 1995] is a much more intimate affair. Canadian pianist Paul Plimley is a perfect partner for Guy. His all-over-the-map approach to piano playing resounds as a perfect contract to Guy's rumbling bass. Though Plimley has oftentimes been compared to Cecil Taylor's percussive piano playing, to be fair, he's much more than that. His approach is one of grace and great beauty. [He's already proven himself as an outstanding player on a number of outstanding records released by hathut, Victo and Music & Arts.] He does have his moments, when he uses percussive blasts to add colour to his palette, but for the most part, he deliberately renders graceful strokes that oftentimes change timbre and tempo. Barry Guy uses various techniques here as well. In between the picking, plucking and amazing work using the bow, Barry proves his bass doesn't have to sound like an actual bass. He goes out on a tangent to actually find new sounds. His means and methods of playing his bass are as usual exploratory. This is another outstanding duo release from Barry's extensive catalogue.

Two years after "Sensology" was recorded, Barry made a trip to Chicago and penned another ground-breaking duo session, this time around with saxophonist Mats Gustafsson. "Frogging" is a more austere affair from the previous duo record. Unlike Barry's duets with Evan Parker, this session proves that experimentation is always the best means to an end. Ever since seeing Mats in concert at Nickelsdorf about a decade ago with Gush and with Raymond Strid and Guy [the resulting CD on Maya "You Forget to Answer"], I'd truly opened my ears to this underappreciated player. His style is one of short-breaths, spittle and what I like to refer to as "farts". [He's not actually blowing gas on his sax; he's simply sputtering abrupt and forceful almost percussive breaths.] Barry is well equipped to handle any challenge. He answers to variety of Matt's attacks with graceful and short plucking on the bass. On the record, he likes to juxtaposition and provides a contrast to the whacky world of Mats. The duo really shines when the pace picks up; when both go off in separate, yet complimentary directions. When Mats blows a blistering gale wine into his tenor or baritone, Barry answers with a barrage of unusual and forceful poundings on his bass. For fans of eccentric and brave music, "Frogging" is a delight that is sure to please.

Tom Sekowski

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>> Paul Plimley / Barry Guy - Sensology; Mats Gustafsson / Barry Guy - Frogging
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