January 24, 2024
Syyspimee - Guillaume Gargaud & Eero Savela
Label: Ramble Records & (bandcamp)
Catalog #: RAM-159
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Release Date: February 2, 2024
Media: compact disc, digital download
The world may not be infinite but its contents are greater than any one individual can experience in a single lifetime. Thus it is possible that someone can make music of a particular variety, say for sake of this example, improvised jazz, for many years, while another person can regard themselves as a seasoned listener of the same variety of music, without the two ever crossing paths. Rather than accusing the listener of having limited or provincial tastes or suggesting that the musician is of strictly local interest, we can instead celebrate the inexhaustible supply of human creativity that allows even old ears to discover the delights of voices, perhaps of similar vintage, but new to their ears.
Such is the case for the staff of the Poison Pie Publishing House and the music of Guillaume Gargaud & Eero Savela. The album, Syyspimee, served as our introduction to both musicians. The album contains eight duets of guitar and trumpet. No other guitar/trumpet duets instantly spring to mind, so the choice of instrumentation itself proved ear-opening. The esthetic of the musicians found precisely the right balance between improvisational meandering and incidental melody that is so pleasing but somewhat rare in the realm of improvised jazz. From the first notes, we were instantly drawn to the music.
The title Syyspimee translates from Finnish into English as "the darkness of autumn". Usually, we allow the titles of abstract instrumental music to guide our listening in the direction intended by the artists. However, in this case, we have to admit that we did not hear a darkness, or even the approach of darkness, in the music. Instead, to our ears, the music was borne on a lightness that pervaded the entire album. There is a natural bouyancy that evokes a brightness rather than an exploration of unlit depths.
The playing of neither Guillaume Gargaud on guitar nor Eero Savela on trumpet is easily pigeon-holed. In these reviews by the PPPH staff, we often find ourselves describing an album in relation to the music of another album by a different artist. The playing of the instruments doesn't fall within any single genre and the musical memories triggered by listening were many and unrelated. For example, the trumpet of Savela recalled at times the wind-through-brass-instrument sounds that are characteristic of far-out, provocative experiments captured on various releases of Relative Pitch Records (such as Aphelia by Lina Allemano & Axel Dörner) and at other times it seemed in the same vein as melodic trumpet works, intended purely to indulge the listener (such as Dreams by Ramon Moro & Emanuele Maniscalco). Yes, we understand that the trumpet playing on these two examples are as different as night and day and that is the point and, moreover, the ears need both.
No less did the playing of Gargaud span the range from free improvisation to classical guitar and many undefined territories between the two. While comparisons to Derek Bailey are used too often, in this case, we hear in the intentional resonance of the strings, a similar exploration. At the same time, as we noted above, the musicians on Syyspimee make no attempt to eschew a simple beauty that charms ears looking for calm harbors (such as The Boy Next Door by Sandro Gibellini, Giulio Corini & Emanuele Maniscalco).
The combination of guitar and trumpet was gorgeous. To find such immense pleasure in an introduction to musicians on an album is at once unanticipated, because not every release can be expected to be exceptional. At the same time, these surprises are welcome because this is the recurring appeal of listening to improvised music—there is now and then a new delight waiting to ambush you the moment you press "play".