Though the first two pieces (33:46 and 39:54 long, respectively) are titled "Conversation I" and "Conversation II," not a word is spoken. Just as the transfer of pollen to a flower is a natural and necessary process in keeping the cycle of life in motion, so is the transfer of thoughts and ideas in theses compositions. "Conversation I" (in four parts) is a pronouncement of gentle force and experimentation and through many levels of intensity, asks of each player to introduce a part of himself. Ganelin and Vysniauskas, another touchstone of Lithuanian jazz, use elements of their hereditary folk music (Ganelin was born in Moscow but lived and studied in Lithuania). Vysniauskas has said that "In Lithuanian folk song I hear echoes of John Coltrane; I try to combine this with the free form of expression offered by modern jazz." (Bert Noglik/1990). In Parts Two and Three, the dialogue is deepened by the Trio. Ganelin begins simultaneously on piano and synthesizer with a single-note stampede, his fingers pouncing upon the keys. Kugal joins in with crashes, shimmers, bells and brushes. With the entrance of Vysniauskas, the Trio takes off with a mix of energies, some of it projected toward the heavens and the rest towards each other. This vital exchange is an instant recharge in getting the players through the piece intact. In the middle of this exchange, Vysniauskas takes a calming solo on soprano saxophone. But at their whim, the Trio redirects time and space, reminiscent of the feeling after a wild ride at an amusement park.
Part One of "Conversation II" (in seven parts) captures Ganelin "talking" with Kugal on his own drum set next to the keyboard. This is followed in Part Two by a boppish segment of quick licks and interplay by the Trio, Vysniauskas soaring on soprano saxophone and cutting in and out. Ganelin gives listeners the chance for a deep breath during his sweeping and jagged solo in Part Three. For his part, Kugal, who has played with Vysniauskas (since 1989), vibraphonist Karl Berger, guitarist Bruce Eisenbeil and other like-minded artists, is a conduit and reflects it in his duties as time manager and colorist. You can hear the Middle Eastern color in Part Six as he adds the sounds of tiny chimes and bells and whispering cymbals. The final twenty-plus minutes of "Conversation II" get rather physical. Watch Vysniauskas swing and sway, dispersing his final reserves of power. It almost seems like the kind of emotional release one has after a session of yoga; a sense of a new kind of openness and freedom. The bucolic "Mirusiems Draugams Atminti (Homage to Friends)" (11:17 long) is in two parts and makes up the remainder of the DVD.
The Ganelin Trio Priority is well represented by NEMU Records. It judiciously has released excellent recordings of "modern/contemporary jazz" and "composed and improvised music" and can now add to its credentials the production of quality DVDs. Each instrument of the Trio is miked well. Aided by the acoustics of the hall, their sound is centered towards each other and not sprayed out into the audience. The visual recording is crisp and each player is seen clearly and in full motion. This new alliance of Ganelin, Vysniauskas and Kugal has created another vocabulary for free and improvised music, just as more artists establish their path and find their voice in the music.
The Ganelin Trio Priority has upcoming tours in Germany, Poland and Hungary and will visit the United States in June at An Die Musik in Maryland and Vision Festival XII in New York City.