When American author Edgar Rice Burroughs wrote the novel, Tarzan, he provided people with an impression of what a man would be like if he lived in the jungle and bonded with nature, taking its life forms into his bosom like a close member of his family. Similarly, composer-drummer-percussionist Zlatko Kau i does the same with his music, treating nature like it is a family member, corresponding with it and respecting its space. Kau i is a man who is inspired by the sounds of nature, He expresses, "I am living in nature," describing it as, "silence, sounds of birds, space, open sky."
He shares, "Lots of my records are influenced by nature. It gives me a freedom in my soul." He cites, "Before, I lived in big cities like Barcelona, Berlin and Amsterdam and it was big stress, so now I have a chance to write the music in silence."
Kau i has a lengthy history, 30-years to be exact, as a jazz correspondent, improviser, and avant-garde performer. Born in the lush environs of Slovenia, Kau i has become a global ambassador for improvisational music. His discography covers a large range of solo albums and numerous collaborations; some of them recorded live in concert, which he celebrates in his latest release, Koncerti ob 30-letnici, translated to 30th Anniversary Concerts. The live performances included in the compilation include Kau i ’s collaborations with such ad-hoc groups as the Cerkno Trijo, the Doline Trijo, and his material with saxophonist Peter Brötzmann and singer Robert Vr on. Kau i reveals that the impetus for making this compilation is to prove that freestyle jazz can be a venerable source of energy to spark creativity and meaningful music.
He explains, "I wanted to tell with my music that in my country, Slovenia, it is possible to do these projects, since mostly the classical or pop musicians are more respected and privileged than jazz musicians. I had some invitations to festivals lastyear like Cerkno (on February 19, 2008), Cankarjev dom (on May 16, 2008), and Festival Sajeta (on July 31, 2008), so I picked these three concerts."
Each one of these concerts shows a different facet of his playing. His CD, I Slakoper with the Cerkno Trijo shows the chamber-jazz side of his artistry, while his CD, Doline with the Doline Trijo exhibits his love of ethnic textures and grassroots amalgams. The third disc in his compilation, Tolminski Punt 2 is a solo record from Kau i inspired by the poetry of Sre ko Kosovel and brimming with operatic flourishes and orchestral flitters.
The Cerkno Trijo has Kau i accompanied by saxophonist Javier Girotto and acoustic bassist Salvatore Maiore. Kau i tells how the trio came together, "Javier lives in Rome and we have a trio with Balanescu. He was working with me on Golden Boat Records together with the great Paul McCandless."
Kau i praises, "Javier is an amazing player and friend. In his music, you feel where is coming from Argentina. We just melt together. The same goes for Salvatore Maiore on this gig. It was supposed to be Paolino dalla Porta, but he had some health problems. Salvatore takes his place."
Kau i surmises, "The name is Cerkno Trijo because we met for the first time on the stage of Cerkno Festival amazing place, little village in the mountains. It was easy ‘cause the music just poured out like water from the tap. I think for this concert, we met for one hour."
Their track "Inmigracion" allows each member to sound off in poetic whorls and reclining verses. It is a piece that has a personal meaning as Kau i comments, "The tune ‘Inmigracion’ is from Javier, so we just play it. I think that Javier is very sensitive to people who had to leave Argentina in the period of Dictator Videla, and of course now at days, the situation in African inmigracion."
Kau i and his collaborators are attracted to real life events and issues that make an impact on humanity whether it is good or bad. Kau i has a social conscientiousness that is admirable and channels it into his music, which is legible in his material with the Doline Trijo accompanied by singer Saadet Türköz and bassist Giovanni Maier. Their interpretation of the Turkish song "Samanyolu" has scintillating embellishments and Saadet’s vocals bolster the music’s celebratory vibe. Kau i endorses, "She is fantastic" in the performance.
Kau i recalls, "With Saadet, we met in Cerkno Festival last year, and the feeling was immediate. We just went on stage without a rehearsal and just did it. I bring my friend in my little wood house and I like her ‘vision’ about the music. That’s the way it started. I didn’t direct her. She has an amazing feel to listen to what is going on behind reality. One of the few singers that I have a chance to work with that I listen to, so the Doline Trijo is totally improvised."
The other member of the Doline Trijo, Giovanni Maier on bass, is a fellow improvisational player. "Giovanni lives very close to my house about 15-miles, and we played together in other occasions with Italian saxophonists like Gianluigi Trovesi and Enrico Rava and many others. He is a born improviser, nice sound, and of course, has a great ear."
The third disc in the compilation, Tolminski Punt 2 has Kau i accompanied by bassist Peter Brötzmann and singer Robert Vr on. Kau i provides, "Tolminski Punt 2 is a continuation of the first record that I did with Peter Brötzmann and three cello players, so this second one, I wrote some music for Robert Vr on in ‘bellcanto’ mood. Tolminski Punt is about the rebellion in 1713 that happened in the village of Tolmin."
Bringing these stories to life is baritone singer Robert Vr on, whom Kau i reveres proudly. "Robert is a friend of mine. I was watching him, what he is doing in Opera House, and of course, he likes to experiment with different stories besides opera singing. I wanted to change the way of telling the story about poetry. I know that in Opera, singing and improvisation are not compatible but I believe that it is possible. I think not many people try it, this way. Especially with Peter, we didn’t practice at all, and Peter was pretty nervous when he had to write parts."
Kau i discusses why he wanted Brötzmann to play bass on the recording. "I like Peter’s playing since I listen to him in the Globe Unity. At that time, I played different music."
He tells, "I just call him and we did the first Tolminski Punt on Splac(h) Records in 2005. We did different concerts as a duo like in Lisbon and France together."
Kau i goes on to say that several of the tracks from Tolminski Punt 2 were influenced by the poetry of Sre ko Kosovel, which he offers some details about, "Sre ko Kosovel (1904-1924) was in my teens my ‘hero.’ He was not so popular as France Prešern (Slovenian hymns are made by words of his poetry). Sre ko is a special one. He died very early, only 22 years old. He wrote in a short time, 4-5 years, so much that it is incredible, almost impossible from simple poetry to avant-garde. So for me, it was natural to dedicate his short life in my music. I go visit his graveyard once a year to thank him for inspiration and trend."
One very special track on Tolminski Punt 2, "Gori Poezija" was inspired by a local poet, Dane Zajc, "Dane Zajc is one of the greatest Slovenian poets. He passed away in 2006. I wanted to express his deep feelings about being on your way alone, and special feel for silence and landscapes. We just improvise with Peter, and Robert was singing the way I wrote."
One element that is consistent throughout all of Kau i ’s live recordings is that each player supplies various sonic fractals, which are stacked, crisscrossed, and angled to build a plethora of melodic patterns. This image is correlated into the artwork for 30th Anniversary Concerts, which displays squiggly lines and splotches that form an arousing portrait of geometrical shapes and esthetically pleasing figures and colors. Kau i informs, "The designer is Boštjan and his wife Eda Pavletiè. They designed three of my records: Zlati èoln 1 and Zlati èoln 2 and my solo record Pav. They are free to do what they want with ideas, and of course I love them for that."
The secret behind Kau i ’s compositions lies in "everything that makes my soul move, in a good way and also bad." He reflects that there is room for improvisational music to grow further. "For me, there are still less walked paths in music, but the greatest thing is you always go to something that you don’t know, and that makes the music very interesting."
The spontaneous thrusts, slides, sonic clusters, and pauses in Kau i ’s and his collaborators composites cause their music to remain in a perpetual state of flux. Their music moves like a living organism, changing, evolving and shifting its shape and pathways like the bodies of nature. If Tarzan was searching for someone who could understand his attachment to nature, he would find that sympathizer in Zlatko Kau i , and very likely feel that there is another human being who is in tune with his feelings, exhibiting an earnest heart and keen perception.By Susan Frances