Tor Yttredal & Roberto Bonati: Some Red, Some Yellow

Patient Nordic restraint and haunting beauty characterise this ECM-like collaboration between Norwegian wind and Italian bass


The Norwegian Yttredal (born 1962) and the Italian Bonati (born 1959) have been colleagues and friends since 2013 when they initiated what would become a series of concerts, albums and musical exchanges between the Faculty of Performing Arts in Stavanger and the Conservatory Arrigo Boito in Parma. Both are most accomplished musicians, of wide experience.

Yttredal has performed in the acclaimed Trondheim Jazz Orchestra with Chick Corea and Terje Rypdal and his CV also includes work with, a.o., John Surman, Richard Bona and John Scofield. Bonati – excellent in both pizzicato and arco mode – has been a major figure on the Italian scene since the 1980s, where his collaborators have included Giorgio Gaslini, Gianluigi Trovesi and Stefano Battaglia.

Some Red, Some Yellow is the first duo recording from Yttredal and Bonati. It’s a compelling affair. A distinctive slice of freshly conceived Euro/Nordic chamber jazz, the music’s many pleasures include the freshly “walking” momentum of the piping Bar To Bar and the finger-clicking, dancing joy of the soaring Saltimbanco, as well as the occasional judicious flurries of improvised “sound-energy” which spark several pieces, such as Some Red, Some Yellow, Bar To Bar and the aptly titled Bouncing. But the chief impact of this suite-like programme lies in its patient restraint.

I would imagine that, like many saxophonists of his generation, Yttredal has listened hard to both Jan Garbarek and John Surman. But to Yttredal’s considerable credit, he has his own sound and approach to matter of melody, phrasing and dynamics. Highlights here include the telling simplicity of his spare soprano lines on the slow-moving, arco-fed Tuning and Incanto, as well as the congruent quality of his initial tenor work on the title track, where Bonati’s richly rounded pizzicato lines impress as much as his subsequent arco figures; the poetic interplay of flute and arco on Night Village, and of bass clarinet and deeply turned arco on the gravely beautiful Invocatio, which, like the similarly cast Strokes, features some measured “bass percussion” from Bonati; the stop-start, “fluttering” quality of Question Marks and the restrained but effective filmic “soundscape” samples which additional contributor John Derek Bishop supplies on the diversely atmospheric Come Pioggia Nel Mattino Silente and Canto Antico.

Handsomely packaged in sturdy triple-fold manner, Some Red, Some Yellow contains much hauntingly beautiful music. Superbly recorded, it should appeal strongly to many an ECM enthusiast. 

(1) Tuning; Incanto; Bar To Bar; Some Red, Some Yellow; Saltimbanco; Invocatio; Bouncing; Question Marks; Strokes; Night Village; To Byte Who; (2) Come Pioggia Nel Mattino Silente; (1) La Venexiana; Seven By Seven; (2) Canto Antico (57.55)
(1) Yttredal (ss, ts, bcl, f); Bonati (b). (2) as (1) plus John Derek Bishop (samples, field recordings). Parma, November 2019.
ParmaFrontiere CD010