John Russell / Ute Völker / Mathieu Werchowski Three Planets

This CD is remarkable in several ways. The most important ones being that it is an acoustic recording and that it is a stellar example of disciplined and coherent improvisation. Ute Völker plays accordion, John Russell plays acoustic guitar and Mathieu Werchowski plays violin. They bob and weave and dance like they’ve been playing together for decades even though this was probably their second year together. Each idea is given room to breathe, grow and develop. Each player listens intensely to the other and with, I think, great humility; there is little or no obvious soloing. The result is a brilliant collection of pieces that for the most part run a bite-sized eight minutes or under and communicates a wealth of artistry and emotion. It definitely comes from the European school of scrape, scratch and small noise improv, but Werchowski’s violin and Völker’s accordion work (both stellar) lend expansive washes of sound and that give body and depth to the pieces. There is a definite Derek Bailey reference in terms of the sound of the guitar but Russell is completely his own man in terms of phrasing and context. (Emanem)