Brian Groder and Tonino Miano – FluiDensity (2013)

FluiDensity is an elegant dance between jazz and classical, rendered by a couple of veteran hands experienced in the nuances of both. Pianist Tonino Miano started out in classical piano before he moved from his native Italy to New York twenty years ago and immersed himself in improvisational music. Brian Groder started from jazz, mastering both the trumpet and flugelhorn. He made a name for himself starting in the 90′s with the Brian Groder Ensemble, developing his own style of modern progressive jazz and improvised music. More recently, his collaborations with the late, great Sam Rivers (Torque, 2007) and Burton Greene (Groder And Greene, 2009) revealed just how esteemed Groder’s peer group really is, and both releases garnered wide acclaim.

Groder is again pairing up with a like-minded pianist, but unlike Groder And Greene, it’s him and the pianist and no one else. Such a bare setup enables so much more freedom and pure expression, and that’s just what is delivered on FluiDensity. These nine compositions were nothing more than informal discussions between takes before they were performed for the record. Thus, it’s a very instinctual set of recordings, and while there are some classical and jazz, it evokes those styles seemingly more by coincidence than some conscious effort to make an album that blends certain kinds of music.

On this record, Groder plays contemplative, plotting his next move, then executes it with firm resoluteness and precision. Miano’s piano has too much classical grace in his approach to draw close comparisons to Cecil Taylor, but does share Taylor’s intensity and adventurous streak. Together, the pair plays with one mind, like a solo performance involving two instruments. On “Optika,” Miano seems to be stalking Groder’s every gesture, almost anticipating his next moves, then seizing the lead down a path that Groder fully exploits (showing off some fleckless chops along the way around the three minute mark). “Opposite Geometry” goes as the title suggests, with Groder playing long-held notes while Miano’s sweeping piano creates an undercurrent moving in the other direction. “Inclination” (captured in video above) moves along like a stage play, with some moments of peacefulness, hope, tension and release, sometimes at once. The pensive “Pinion” is derived from a 1978 composition, “Noctamble #3,” by kindred soul pianist/composer Frederic Rzewski.

FluiDensity presents music that’s both unencumbered and generally placid. Brian Groder and Tonino Miano send out a clear message that spontaneity doesn’t have to be chaotic.

FluiDensity is scheduled for release on February 6, by Groder’s Latham Records. Visit Brian Groder’s or Tonino Miano’s websites for more info.

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S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron is a CPA and mid-level data analyst for a Fortune 100 company by day, music opinion-maker at night. His musings are strewn out across the interwebs on jazz.com, AllAboutJazz.com, a football discussion board and some inchoate customer reviews of records from the late 1990s on Amazon under a pseudonym that will never be revealed. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.