Released by England's world-renowned independent Leo Records label in 2011, Square Down is an album of six collective improvisations by Russian pianist Simon Nabatov, German saxophonist Matthias Schubert, and Dutch cellist Ernst Reijseger. These three musicians worked together intermittently throughout the '90s, and upon resuming their collaboration, located hitherto untapped stores of creative energy. A logical precedent for Square Down was Nabatov's album Roundup, issued on Leo in 2010. As can be said for many of the works to be found in that company's consistently progressive catalog, the music on Square Down reinvents itself with protean insistence, each individual simultaneously receiving and emanating in morphing cycles of shared invention. By the first decade of the 21st century, collective improvisation had become an established if still somewhat underground tradition worldwide, thanks largely to the devoted efforts of producers like Russian e'migre' Leo Feigin, who founded Leo Records in the late '70s as a forum for modern creative improvised music during a period when artists who lived under oppressive regimes and dared to engage in such activities faced the very real possibility of being subjected to harassment, economic censure, or even imprisonment. The Leo catalog listed more than 700 entries when Square Down was recorded in 2011. It is hard to resist comparing the work of Nabatov, Reijseger, and Schubert with that of the Leo label's original star ensemble, pianist Vyacheslav Ganelin, saxophonist Vladimir Chekasin, and percussionist Vladimir Tarasov. The word "tradition", which shares the same root as "trade", suggests that ideas and inspirations are handed around, and not exclusively from one generation to the next, for art and life are not so linear. Reijseger's organically creative approach to the cello places him at the forefront of a modern tradition that traces back to Webern's Op.11. That continuum is populated by Dave Holland, Diedre Murray, David Eyges, and Abdul Wadud; innovators who expanded the cello's horizons during the late 20th century. Consistently inspired and willing to expand his art in whichever directions he senses that it needs to go, Reijseger has flourished amidst comparably imaginative progress by cellists Erik Friedlander and Fred Lonberg-Holme. Those who are inspired by the music on Square Down are advised to investigate similarly adventurous recordings associated with bassists John Lindberg, Chris Dahlgren, and Mark Helias. This exciting album also has plenty in common with the works of William Parker, Joe"lle Le'andre, and Buell Neidlinger.
All Music Guide