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Three States of Freedom

Tom Soloveitzik - saxophones

Kevin Davis - cello

Korhan Erel - electronics

Recorded in Jaffa, June 2010

Image: Valery Bolotin

CD Creative Sources 2012

Liner notes



three states of freedom |cs212

Tom Soloveitzik on tenor & soprano saxes & metal (1 track), Korhan Erel on computer and Kevin Davis on cello. Even longer than their neighbor at Clean Feed, the Creative Sources label has been the home of improvised music sessions for musicians from around the world, not just where they are located in Portugal. This unique trio features musicians from vastly different cultures: Tom Soloveitzik is from Israel, Korhan Erel is from Turkey and Kevin Davis hails from the US (Chicago). Although all three musicians come from places which often don't co-exist peacefully, it is in the spirit of freedom where the trio works best connecting in ways that are not held back by a spoken language. There is not much I can tell you about the backgrounds of these men, but Mr. Davis appears on a recording with Jason Stein and Mr. Erel is a member of Islak Kopek, a Turkish ensemble whose CD I reviewed last month (April of 2012).
"Arba Esre" opens this disc with an eerie layer of drones, soft sax squeaks, bent bowed cello waves and soft static-like electronics float together and around one another. For "Chamesh" the cello erupts more intensely, bending the strings while the sax chatters slowly adding fragments and the electronics also add small fractured and focused sounds. There is close, thoughtful shared spirit and respect that three three have, a bond we hear inside the music. The music breathes together and moves in connected layers. Mr. Korhan's electronics are often used minimally and selectively, never getting the way or taking over. While this music is certainly too dense to be called 'lower case', the cautiousness is carefully utilized. All it takes is some patience to see the way that things unfold in a most rewarding and organic way. 


Bruce Lee Gallanter (Downtown Music Gallery)

These three experimental musicians— Israeli saxophonist Tom Soloveitzik, Turkish electronics player Korhan Erel (founding member of the Turkey's pioneering free improvisation group, Islak Köpek), and American expat cellist Kevin Davis met in Istanbul in 2009. This album was recorded a year later, in June 2010, following a short Israeli tour, conducted during troubled political times, both between Israel and Turkey and within Israel itself.

The seven free improvisations focus on sounds at their most abstract and vulnerable. Soloveitzik plays the saxophone but for him it is simply a metallic instrument into which one can breathe. Respectfully, Erel electronic kit produces light, fragile sounds that rarely have an obvious shape, while Davis sticks to the John Cage philosophy that all sounds are beautiful ,and researches the sonic continuum of his cello with extended techniques.

Oblivious to the political storm outside the recording studio, the three musicians manage to articulate their own patient, respectful, compassionate and always thoughtful and cerebral multilayered sound worlds, letting each interplay evolve organically. The weightless sounds float and change their elastic form, kinetic volition and energy levels through delicate microtonal interactions. On "Shmoneh," "Eser" and "Arbah," silence and near-silence are of equal importance, and possess the same intensity as more audible percussive sounds. A very interesting sonic exploration.


 Eyal Hareuveni (All About Jazz)

Saxophones, computer and cello. I went back and forth on this one. It often evinces a skittery character that sometimes struck me as excessively busy but, through the actual colors used--very liquid and silvery--had a tendency to tickle. and when the trio pauses and allows some spareness to creep into the music, it's very fine. Tending toward quiet, all the usual extended techniques on view and nothing that, in some sense, we haven't experienced before, but overall capably handled, not overbearing, not overstaying its welcome. I'd be curious to hear any of the musicians in varied settings. 


Brian Olewnick (Just Outside)

Eddie Prevost's improvisation workshop has been meeting weekly in London since 1999, with several hundred participants having attended. In that time, some of its long-standing participants, such as saxophonist Seymour Wright, guitarist Ross Lambert and pianist Sebastian Lexer, have built up considerable performance histories and discographies.

Lately, there has been an increasing trickle of releases from newer workshop participants such as guitarist James O'Sullivan, French pianist Marjolaine Charbin and Greek zither player Dimitra Lazaridou-Chatzigoga. To that list, we can now add Israeli saxophonist Tom Soloveitzik, who attended the workshop while he was studying at the London College of Communication, only stopping when he went back to Israel at the end of 2011.

Three States of Freedom was recorded in Jaffa in June 2010 during a tour of Israel by the trio of Soloveitzik plus American-born cellist Kevin Davis and, on computer and controllers, Korhan Erel, of Turkish free improvising group Islak Köpek. Soloveitzik had met and played with the other two when he visited Istanbul in October 2009, a meeting that led to the tour and this recording. Given the diverse nature of their instruments, the three work well together as a trio. None of them hogs the limelight, all three seemingly more focused on the overall ensemble sound, with each occasionally rising to the surface, supported by the others.

At his workshop, Prevost always emphasizes to participants the importance of listening to those they play with and of exploring what their own instruments can do. On the evidence of all seven improvisations here, all three members of the trio have heeded those instructions but none more so than Soloveitzik; he hardly ever plays like a jazz player, instead using his instruments to produce whatever sound is most appropriate at a particular moment. As on "Chamesh," this can involve sustaining a single note to underpin the playing of his colleagues or interjecting the occasional single staccato note to punctuate proceedings. At other times, he will strike the bell of his saxophone with metal objects to produce percussive sounds. Such invention and variety are also displayed by both Davis and Erel, ensuring that Three States of Freedom has plenty to reveal to those who return to it frequently. 


John Eyles (All About Jazz)


A collaboration between Israeli sax player Tom Soloveitzik and Turkmen Korhan Erel (computer) and Kevin Davis (cello), recorded in the studio following a one-week tour of Israel. Demanding free improvisation where players weave subtle relationships between their contributions. Erel’s electronics intermingle with the cello and the sax alike – and Soloveitzik uses objects that blur distinctions even further. A fine meeting. 


François Couture (Monsieur Délire)


Enregistrées à Jaffa en juin 2010, ces sept improvisations partagent une même qualité de clair-obscur et, pourrait-on dire, de belle grisaille – sable, scories, métal brossé. La facture sensible des pièces en question semble tenir à une soigneuse alchimie de timbres : aux frottés essentiels du violoncelle de Kevin Davis viennent s'agréger les longs harmoniques et doux slaps de Tom Soloveitzik (saxophones ténor & soprano), tandis que Korhan Erel (computer) accomplit un travail électronique efficacement discret (surfaces corrodées et lentes comètes).

Drones à tranquille ébullition ou plages plus fourmillantes, c'est sans hausser le ton mais en tenant son cap que le trio convainc. Une belle découverte. 


Guillaume Tarche (Le Son du Grisli)

Il y a quelques années encore, j'étais persuadé que la musique improvisée était intrinsèquement politique - voire révolutionnaire. Je commence à nuancer cette position, car d'une part beaucoup de musiciens sont complètement apolitiques, n'en ont rien à branler des théories sociales radicales, louent parfois certains régimes libéraux, ou s'intègrent volontiers aux institutions étatiques. D'autre part, il n'y a qu'à regarder le public présent aux concerts/performances de musique improvisée et expérimentale n'importe où dans le monde pour voir que cette musique ne touchera pas de si peu le prolétariat, les sans-papiers, les "marginaux", le sous-prolétariat et tous les exclus de ce monde. Reste seulement un potentiel subversif et révolutionnaire, et seulement un potentiel je pense maintenant, mais ce n'est pas apparemment pas l'essence de cette musique, musique réservée (aujourd'hui du moins, et seulement aujourd'hui je l'espère) aux classe bourgeoises, bobos, hipsters et étudiants en premier lieu.

Je pense toujours à de disque en écrivant ces quelques lignes sur le lien entre politique et musique puisque Tom Soloveitzik y fait référence dans ses notes. Il y fait référence car le trio est composé de trois musiciens aux nationalités disons antinomiques: Tom Soloveitzik (saxophones soprano et ténor, objets en métal) tout d'abord est un israélien originaire de Jaffa, tandis que le violoncelliste Kevin Davis est américain et Korhan Erel (ordinateur & contrôleurs) nous vient de Turquie. Pour Soloveitzik donc, la musique de ce trio n'est pas politique en soi, comme il le dit clairement, mais une collaboration entre trois musiciens de ces différentes nationalités en Israël, durant juin 2010, alors qu'avaient lieu pendant ce temps des manifestations de juifs ultra-orthodoxes et que neuf turcs se faisaient tuer par des raids de l'armée israélienne, confère un caractère éminemment politique à ces sept improvisations. Caractère qui est néanmoins extérieur à la pratique de l'improvisation et eux sons en eux-mêmes.

Enfin bref, venons-en à la musique elle-même d'ailleurs avant d'entrer dans un débat sans fin. Rien de particulier à dire dessus, il s'agit d'un trio assez commun d'improvisation libre où s'entremêlent sons électroniques et acoustiques. Une musique réactive et urgente, où les idées ne durent pas, où les sons se caractérisent souvent par une certaine fragilité et une grande spontanéité. Rien à dire pour la forme. Mais le contenu est tout de même plutôt réussi, chaque musicien possède une personnalité assez forte et démontre une utilisation singulière et créative de son instrument. Que ce soit le minimalisme de Soloveitzik, la fragilité de Erel ou la volubilité parfois bruitiste de Davis, chaque musicien met à profit un langage frais et aventureux pour une musique où chacun a sa place, y compris le silence et le calme. Non la forme n'apporte pas grand chose, et les férus d'efi (improvisation libre européenne) y trouveront sans aucun doute leur compte. Mais pour ceux qui recherchent plus la nouveauté à tout prix, le côté avant-gardiste et/ou expérimental de l'improvisation, ils devront se contenter de la singularité et de la fraîcheur de ces trois voix méconnues.

Rien de nouveau comme je viens de le dire, mais une volonté partagée de créer un moment intense et aventureux, d'explorer le son des instruments et du trio, et c'est plutôt réussi, même si ces pièces manquent parfois d'énergie et de puissance. 


Julien Héraud (ImprovSphere)

O mesmo se poderá dizer de "Three States of Freedom", um caso mais que comprova a condição transnacional da música improvisada. Tom Soloveitzik (saxofones) é israelita, Korhan Erel (computador, utilizado com controladores da Nintendo Wii) vem da Turquia e Kevin Davis (violoncelo) nasceu em Chicago. Não são propriamente músicos de primeiro plano, mas Soloveitzik é muito activo no seu país, Erel pertence ao colectivo Islak Kopek, pioneiro em terras turcas, e Davis toca, por exemplo, com Jason Stein. Ainda que sendo perceptível haver alguma contenção, esta é uma música feita de densidades, maiores ou menores consoante as camadas de materiais se somam ou subtraem. Entre "drones" particularmente orgânicos, alguma estática electrónica e pontilhismos sónicos aparentemente desordenados, a música vai fluindo com uma lógica organizacional que nunca é óbvia, mas surge com a maior das naturalidades. 


Rui Eduardo Paes

I lettori di Mescalina sanno già di Korhan Erel e Islak Kopek, primo gruppo di impro contemporanea a raccogliere, in Turchia a metà anni novanta, una eredità forse ancora poco mappata nel suo sviluppo storico, come del resto lo sono state tante realtà d’avanguardia nell’Europa continentale fino più a est, fin dagli anni settanta. Disco di sintesi questo Three States of Freedom, non solo per il materiale che contiene, quanto in prospettiva. Arba Esre, in apertura, è un suggestivo brano per live electronics, violoncello e sassofono. Textures fitte, tese, che nell’astrazione sembrano quasi cinematiche, tanto che nel diffonderle in rete mi son trovato a mio agio a inserirla tra una vecchia incisione free circolarmente polimelodica di Charles ‘Bobo’ Shaw e un brano di pianoforte più classico, perché si tratta di un brano paradossalmente ‘idiomatico’ come effetto, anche se non nella struttura.

Chamesh è invece un ‘classico’ della microtonalità non idiomatica contemporanea, il classico pezzo che per poterlo gustare su disco occorrerebbe prima essersi immersi in un live set – dovrei avere prima o poi direttamente da Erel delle delucidazioni sul funzionamento delle sue apparecchiature elettroniche. Poco male, dato che l’apparente stasi meditativa del pezzo, come anche la progressione delle masse sonore della successiva Shmoneh, o i chiocci, i secchi puntillismi, i graffi, i rintocchi di Shteim Esre, sono figli più che legittimi dell’estetica improvised music, da metà anni sessanta a oggi, così come Eser, con le sue corde nervose cui fanno da contrasto vibrazioni di sax la cui ricorrenza ritmica suggerisce una sensazione di circolarità, mentre i becchettii di Arbah, interpuntati da electronics e da più lievi ma concentrati sfregamenti lasciano spazio nella conclusiva Chamesh Esre a un suggerito, pastorale lirismo.

Fin qui potremmo dire che questo album rientra in quella categoria di opere che consolidano una pratica, un linguaggio, godendo del senso di una appartenenza a una storia trentennale e di una precisa modernità nelle soluzioni linguistiche, e consonante con quel che oggi l’espressività tutta va cercando – una tensione che conduca l’ascoltatore all’ascolto interiore – patendo, non per colpe proprie, né dei musicisti coinvolti, un background - in senso esteso, prendetelo come ‘mondo creativo’ – fatto di nicchie poco comunicanti e di ascoltatori spesso non necessariamente curiosi di alimentarsi al di sopra dei generi per creare propri fili conduttori di ascolto.

Per far capire al lettore, Three States of Freedom nasce da un tour che parte da Galata, in Turchia, l’ottobre del 2009, e finisce nell’estate del 2010 a Jaffa, dove il disco viene registrato. Nel mezzo, come il sassofonista Tom Soloveitzik ricorda nelle note di copertina, un raid Israeliano a Gaza, in cui nove cittadini turchi rimangono uccisi il 31 maggio 2010, la protesta da parte di una congregazione ultraortodossa contro la discriminazione scolastica voluta dalla Corte Suprema di Gerusalemme, e il calore che fonde i motori delle macchine durante i tragitti tra la capitale di Israele, Haifa e Jaffa. “Allo stesso tempo udibili e inaudibili, queste storie aggiungono un’altra dimensione al loro suono”, scrive.

Che la tensione sia palpabile, e sempre più presente mentre si procede lungo l’ascolto, determinando un azzeramento progressivo dei movimenti verticali a favore dell’orizzontalità, è evidente, come che l’intento e il risultato siano un tentativo di resistenza alla colonizzazione, a livello creativo e di intenzione, mediante un attraversamento. La direzione, piuttosto che verso l’erosione dello spazio esterno – la conquista, la ‘resistenza’ come la si intende in senso classico nelle musiche 'in opposizione', parlo per il lettore italiano – è l’apertura di uno spazio interiore, che però sappia descrivere quanto dell’esteriorità è penetrato, marcando segno.

E’ venuto tempo di fare un passo più in là, non lo dico (solo) a Erel, a Soloveitzik e al violoncellista Kevin Davis, ma è tempo di riconquistare quella dimensione verticale – e lo dico sapendo che un movimento creativo non nasce nel momento in cui si prende in mano uno strumento, e che tale compito non è solo di chi è artista e ‘creativo’, dato che, come scriveva poco meno di un mese fa il trombettista Stephen Haynes, l’audience, e per estensione, aggiungo, il mondo che la contiene, è parte attiva di detta creatività.

קפיצה משולשת

את ההרכב שהוציא את האלבום "Three States of Freedom" - הסקסופוניסט הישראלי תום סולובייצ'יק, המוסיקאי האלקטרוני הטורקי קורהאן ארל והצ'לן האמריקאי קווין דייוויס - לא נראה לעולם בפסטיבל הג'ז באילת. המוסיקה שלהם לא יכולה לעבוד באוויר הפתוח מול אלפי אנשים. היא חרישית מדי, תובענית מדי, והיא דורשת ריכוז מקסימלי וחיבה בסיסית למוסיקה מופשטת. בהינתן התנאים האלה, היא יכולה להעניק חווית האזנה עמוקה ומרתקת.

שלושת המוסיקאים, שמשתייכים למסורת של המוסיקה המאולתרת יותר מאשר למסורת של הג'ז, נפגשו כשסולובייצ'יק הישראלי נסע לאיסטנבול במטרה להתוודע לסצינת האלתור המקומית. המפגש ביניהם היה כל כך פורה, שהוחלט להמשיך אותו בישראל. רצה הגורל וארל הטורקי ודייוויס האמריקאי באו לישראל ביוני 2010, כמה ימים אחרי אירועי המשט הטורקי, והנסיבות האלה טענו את היצירה המשולשת באינטנסיביות גבוהה במיוחד.

גם כך, ללא הנסיבות הפוליטיות, המוסיקה של סולובייצ'יק, ארל ודייוויס מתאפיינת ברגישות קיצונית. זאת מוסיקה חשופה מאוד: אין מלודיה ברורה או קצב קבוע להיתלות בהם, אלא יש ניסיון לייצר תדר משותף בעיקר באמצעות סאונד. שלושת המוסיקאים מסתתים באטיות את הצליל שלהם, ויש ניגוד מרתק בין המאמץ הגדול שכרוך בסיתות הזה (הצ'לן דייוויס נשמע לעתים כמו מי שבונה צ'לו ולא כמו מי שמנגן בכלי) לבין הצליל המינימליסטי שאליו הם מחויבים מבחינה אסתטית.

מי שאין לו שום סבלנות למוסיקה לא מלודית, שלא יתקרב לדיסק הזה. אבל כפי שמעידה החוויה שלי, לא חייבים להיות חסידי אלתור מופשט כדי לאהוב את "Three States of Freedom". היו רגעים שבהם המוסיקה נשמעה לי מפורקת ואזוטרית מדי, אבל רוב הזמן - ויותר מכל בקטעים המבוססים על משיכות צליל ארוכות ואטיות - שמעתי חתירה עיקשת ומרתקת לכינונו של תדר משותף. שלושה זרמים של חופש שמתלכדים לכדי זרם עמוק אחד.

בן שלו (הארץ)

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