|One Final Note Review: The solo recital is perhaps the most personal expression that a musician can offer. Of course, an unaccompanied session would seem to be the most logical scheme, as most musicians spend the majority of their time performing in this setting (i.e. the practice room). The trick to success, given the relatively limited scope, is to proffer a set of expressions that will be able to sustain the listener's interest without becoming tiresome, predictable or just flat-out boring. One of the great developments in the post-War era has been the encouragement of solo performance, especially within the context of creative improvised music. Gone are the traditional roles for the bass and drums, emerging from support roles or serving as steady rudders. Undeniably, self-indulgence is to be avoided (although some still fall into the trap) and individualism is the aim. While the quintessential solo bass recording remains the late Peter Kowald's Was Da Ist, a thought-provoking masterpiece of heart and technique, there are several practitioners within the last fifteen years or so, including William Parker, Paul Rogers, and Dominic Duval, who have added much to the history.
The latest entry into the books is Ken Filiano, a veteran of both coasts and someone who should be no stranger to the ears of creative music fans, having appeared on numerous recordings over the past two decades. Such sessions include work with Dom Minasi, Steve Adams, Fred Hess, Vinny Golia, as well as countless appearances on the CIMP and Nine Winds labels. Based on his considerable experience, then, a solo bass recital is a welcome addition to his discography and demonstrates his accomplishments, performed with both soul and free-spiritedness.
As for the overall approach, Filiano concentrates on a variety of environments, but each instance makes superior use of his deep, resonant sound that favors the lower register. In both arco and pizzicato settings, Filiano demonstrates his dexterity and prowess; however, the result is devoid of any grandstanding or selfish displays. Rather, the set is an introspective journey full of emotion and drama that, rather than hitting you over the head all at once, allows for the development of each piece, making for a lasting impression. As for Filiano's classical side, his arco technique is displayed in particular on the vibrant opener, "Water Down Stone", which presents an alluring commencement to the disc. Filiano's pizzicato work, in contrast, shows a melodic and buoyant approach, such as on the lissome "Relay" or the agile "Tangram", with its tasteful harmonics.
Filiano also experiments with effects and overdubs, especially on the haunting "Breathingdreaming", that splits between string tapping, arco loops and a slowly evolving central theme. Equally stunning are "Lucerne", with its beautifully dark waves made more poignant through the use of decorous overdubs and "Non Sequitor", where the effects create a floating feeling of shifting sands. Of particular note is perhaps the most nebulously soulful piece on the record, a two-part blend of Filiano's "Crucible" with trumpeter Bobby Bradford's "Woman". What starts out as a percussive pizzicato exercise evolves slowly into a stirring vamp, bridged by bells that tinkle lightly to foster a mystic sentiment—completing a set of exemplary music for solo bass that places Filiano among the best of his aforementioned peers.