Samo Salamon Quartet

Two Hours

Fresh Sound New Talent

Samo Salamon (g), Tony Malaby (ts), Mark Helias (b), Tom Rainey (d)

Reference: FSNT-238

Bar code: 8427328422383

SAMO SALAMON is a jazz guitarist and composer, but working also as a studio and project musician. He began his musical journey by studying classical guitar in Maribor and continued with studying jazz guitar on the jazz conservatorium in Klagenfurt. In December 2000 he was living with and studying individually for one month in New York with the jazz master John Scofield. Through the years he was studying guitar and had lessons with known guitar players such as Rudy Linka, Tim Brady and Andrea Allione in Trieste. In year 2000 he was a part of the project of the drummer Zlatko Kaucic and has meanwhile recorded and played with many great international and slovenian jazz musicians.

"The band on the CD is just amazing. I am so happy that I was able to play with these cats, it was just beautiful. That's why the CD has the title Two Hours, we recorded namely the whole album in two hours, it was so natural and spontaneous, without any discussions, music just happened... We met two days before the recording session... we were supposed to have a rehearsal in the club Detour but they were shooting a movie there... you know, New York, so the guys came for nothing, I didn't have a phone, so I couldn't call anyone... Tony ate hus Chinese food, Tom was relaxed, while Mark drove to the club with a cab, mad since I didn't call him whether he needs an amp or not... that's how we met... then the Detour situation... Mark luckily lives nearby, so we drove to this place, went through the tunes acoustically, Tom playing on plates and pans... the gig in the evening was really musically beautiful... so was the recording..."

-Samo Salamon


01. Empty Heart 5:59
02. One for Steve Lacy 5:39
03. A Melody for Her 6:14
04. Does David Know He's not Brown? 3:58
05. Where's the Bill? 3:38
06. Silence of the Poets 5:07
07. Mind Breezer 4:23
08. Blink 5:44
09. The Lonely Tune 7:33
10. Coffee with a Girl 5:00

All tracks composed by Samo Salamon

Samo Salamon (g); Tony Malaby (ts); Mark Helias (b); Tom Rainey (d)
Recorded at Systems Two, Brooklyn, NY, on November 17th 2004

Sound engineer: Mike Marciano

Produced by Samo Salamon

Executive producer: Jordi Pujol


Critics say:

"He adds an almost dizzying energy, and he swings hard. The net effect is what Ornette Coleman might sound like if his primary instrument were guitar instead of alto saxophone."
All About Jazz (April, 2005)

"alamon is major league material!"
All About Jazz (October, 2003)

"He is a composer and guitarist beyond his years, and a force to be reckoned with!"
Goldmine Magazine (December, 2003)


"Slovenian guitarist Samo Salamon has generated a good degree of heat over the last couple of years, first with his self-published '03 album Ornethology, then with last year's Ela's Dream. Both discs suggested the emergence of a young guitarist well on the way to finding a distinctive personal voice. The early promise is fulfilled on Two Hours, Salamon's first album with a US lineup, recorded in New York in late '04 with a tough local crew.

Salamon is engaging both as a guitarist and as a composer (all the tunes here are originals), and he brings the same agitated energy to both endeavours. His music is eager and edgy and excited, and his lines! pile up! climactic resolution! after climactic resolution! He can turn his hand to a more leisurely lyricism (as on Empty Heart and The Lonely Tune, both, as their titles suggest, poignant introspections), but is most impressive on hot, jittery, uptempo post-Ornette Coleman miniatures.

Salamon has picked 'n' mixed pragmatically from the harmolodic menu, but he hasn't bought the whole nine yards; when he's at his hottest, you can hear traces of James Blood Ulmer, but other lines recall Bill Frisell and early mentor John Scofield. Sonny Sharrock also peers around the corner from time to time. Salamon uses effects sparingly (mainly chorus and distortion) and has a penchant for tempo changes. He hasn't quite arrived at his destination yet, but Two Hours suggests he may soon.

Salamon's hands-across-the-ocean band here is busting. The album was recorded in just two hours, with one sotto voce rehearsal in bassist Mark Helias's apartment, thus necessitating a high degree of attentiveness and interaction between the musicians in the studio. The resulting collective spontaneity is well suited to Salamon's open-ended skeletal tunes and improvising abandon, and if the band doesn't always land on the one in perfect unison, a few ragged edges sit happily within the music. All three American musicians shine; saxophonist Tony Malaby is a particular thrill and delight, with split tones, growls, smears, lurches, jabs and body punches tumbling out of his tenor.

Salamon, whose recording activity is as prolix as his music, has announced no less than five new albums to be released this year and nextwith a New York quintet, two different European quartets, a US/European quartet, and a trio with Drew Gress and Tom Rainey. On this occasion, then, it is safe to predict that he's a musician we'll be hearing a lot more from in the future.

Chris May -All About Jazz

"Next time you find yourself underwhelmed by a jazz recording on an indie jazz label, it might be entirely the fault of the artistsome people make bad records, after all. That said, the whole system might be the culprit: small labels offer musicians opportunities to do sessions, but dont (and usually cant) give them what they need most to make a proper album: time. Time is money in the studio, of course, and rehearsal must occur on the artists dime before the studio date.
Slovenian guitarist/composer Samo Salamon alludes to these sorts of conditions in the title of his new quartet CD Two Hoursthats how long the album took to record after the band (composed of Salamon, bassist Mark Helias, drummer Tom Rainey and tenorman Tony Malaby) managed to eke out one amp-free rehearsal and one live gig.

Fortunately, thats how these guys operateat least one of thems probably playing a New York gig tonight under the same sorts of cicrumstancesand youll have to strain pretty hard to find any slackness or stumbling in the playing on Two Hours, a bracingly tough yet ultimately melodic collection of ten Salamon originals.
Salamon had an apprenticeship with John Scofield in 2000, and you might hear some Sco-tone in his electric guitar playing, but his slightly overdriven sound, light, brisk touch and jagged, mild-dementia phrasings his own; if he resembles anyone at times, its a more jazz-inflected Marc Ribot. In any case, his jaggedness is just the bitter coating of a sweet musical pillhes really a melodist at heart. Salamons tone blends marvelously with Malabys robust tenor lines, and the two contribute memorable unison heads to A Melody for Her and Does David Know Hes Not Brown?just to name a couple.

Empty Heart, the CD opener, is, simply put, one of the best songs of the year, with a delicate, simple theme that Chet Baker (or any of his European ECM trumpet brethren) would love. Helias threads the track with augustly deep, woody lines that sound eminently wiseboth before, after and during his a cappella solo that is slowly joined by Malaby, then Rainey and Salamon.

Malaby and Salamon bite off the cagey theme of A Melody for Her with real gusto, and the groups sudden, telepathic shift from a looser time into a straight 4/4 swing during Malabys solo emphatically undermines any claim to the band being negatively affected by underrehearsal. Here and elsewhere, Salomons single-note, non-chordal lines act more like a horn than guitar, and, horn-like, he often lays out during Malabys solos.

Silence of the Poets is a strange blues with an incantatory, improvised drums/arco bass introduction and, later, a deep-emotion Malaby solo thats buttressed by whining volume swells and feeback groans from the leader over autonomous bass and drums. Its a perfect, satisfying blend of beauty and noise.
The music on Two Hours rises above the circumstances of its creation. Youll be hearing more from Salamon."

Paul Olson -All About Jazz

"Samo Salamon is a master guitarist. His chops go unchallenged; at any moment he could play any note or chord on the instrument. That said, Two Hours is a disappointment. Salamon and his bandmates (Tony Malaby, tenor sax; Mark Helias, bass; Tom Rainey, drums) fall victim to two of the biggest traps in jazz: sub-par songwriting and uninspired playing.

Salamon studied for a year under John Scofield, and the Sco influence shows in Salamons tone, as well as his lightning runs. Empty Heart opens the album and is a highlight, almost reminiscent of the great ensemble playing in ScoLoHoFo. Malaby plays an eccentric Lovano-ish solo, while Salamons chording during the theme is gripping. In this example of superb ensemble playing, not only are the musicians responding to each other, they are also playing with a purpose.

Salamon has freer tendencies than Scofield, and this recording highlights his proclivity. However, more often than not it sounds forced and out of context. The solo breaks on many of the tunes are contrived, essentially breakdowns into space from straight jazz melodies. As I see it, one essential aspect of great free playing is its emotional content. The great free players are able to eschew the boundaries of music and really play what they feel. While Salamon and his counterparts obviously have the chops to play free, they lack the sheer emotion necessary to sustain interest. Sure, Raineys drums provide perfect counterpoint to Salamons rushes, and Malaby and the guitarist are completely in synch throughout the recording. But without that emotion, much of their playing comes through as noise.

This recording does show promise. Salamon will be heard from again; his immense chops preclude him from falling by the wayside. And while the songwriting here is not great, it is clear that Salamon is able to write a simple, melodic, catchy tune. While Two Hours is not recommended, Salamon is a guitarist worth keeping track of."

David Miller -All About Jazz

"The astonishing Two Hours, from a young, European guitarist, of all people, has all the elements jazz lovers in search of worthy new projects should be seeking.
Salamon certainly can pick a band. Sidemen dont come much, if any better than Tony Malaby, Mark Helias and Tom Rainey. If Salamon sounds a bit starstruck in the liner notes his guitar work betrays no such thing. All the playing is virtuosic: flawless in the pocket and impishly brilliant out of it...hes set himself up at one stroke as a new jazz guitarist to be dealt with.

Salamons tunes are satisfyingly well-structured with strong melodies, but the records looseness and spontaneity (hinted at in the title, which refers to the amount of time Salamon claims the session required) is the real marvel. A paucity of rehearsal and recording time have resulted in a very special recording that will help keep jazz obituary from being written just a bit longer."

Ty Cumbie -All About Jazz (July, 2006)

"It matters not that this recording took but two hours to record after very little rehearsal. Samo Salamon was ready with his music, and his compatriots, three well-traveled musicians with fast musical reflexes and good instincts, actually thrived when thrown into this situation.

It is hard to predict whether better music will be made by a group that has played together or one that is new and fresh. Certainly all of us have heard top-notch music from both sides of the divide. Enough has been said and written about the need for spontaneity and how that can be quashed by over-rehearsal. Many times the magic happens when old hands who have that creative fire get together and can be spontaneous because they know that things will not fall apart.

Two Hours bears no marks of the circumstances of its creation. Salamon's compositions are very strong in both melodic or structural components and thus provide enough of a framework for everyone to feel comfortable and be loose. Except for Where's The Bill, a Bill Frisell dedication that was recorded with Salamon's Italian quartet on Ornethology (2003), all the tunes are new. They seem to share a subliminal connection with each other in that they feel like they are made from the same small set of building blocks. This is not a criticism, but a clear sign that this music represents Salamon at this point in time.

As the album plays, and especially when it is replayed, the essence of who Salamon is right now becomes clearer. He likes melody and has a way of creating a phrase with a memorable contour that can provide real meat for improvisation, allowing the musicians to be free, yet enabling them to keep in touch easily. Many of the tunes have a bop feel filtered through the modern esthetic, which also enables the players to explore and be free from a solid base.

Tenor saxophonist Tony Malaby is terrific throughout, grabbing hold of the melodies and breaking them down, many times playing free sounds. Mark Helias and Tom Rainey create a flexible and solid rhythmic base when needed and break away when the music demands. Very clearly listening to each other and the rest of the band, this pair makes the album the success that it is. For his part, Salamon seems to lay out a lot, perhaps not wanting to upset the balance. When he does take a solo, he is an extreme reductionist, taking his melodies apart into scale or intervallic fragments, at times sounding like he has so many ideas to get out that he might burst.

The arrangements clearly had to be on the simpler side, and yet the players shift alignments effortlessly as if they had been playing this music together for months. Knowing that Two Hours was not the result of long rehearsal only intensifies the wonder of what was laid down in the studio."

Budd Kopman -All About Jazz (May, 2006)

"Sometimes two hours is enough. Groups like Oregon and the Dave Holland Quintet have shown the value of developing long-term chemistry, but sometimes the energy of the unexpected can be equally motivating. With the one rehearsal for Two Hours sideswiped by an unexpected grab of the New York rehearsal space for a movie shoot, Slovenian guitarist Samo Salamon truly made the most out of a situation that might have unnerved a less confident player.

The musicians chosen for the datesaxophonist Tony Malaby, bassist Mark Helias and drummer Tom Raineyare all well-accustomed to working without a safety net. And so, after a brief acoustic rehearsal at Helias home, the quartet went into the studio the next day and cut the albums ten original compositions in just two hours. But youd never know it.

Salamons ambitious nature has been apparent since the out-of-nowhere surprise that was Ornethology (Independent, 2003). With four additional releases slated for this year, 2006 may be the year he makes the leap into greater visibility, especially given that his collaborators include figures like Drew Gress, Josh Roseman, David Binney and Mark Turner. If Two Hours is anything to go by, its going to be an exciting year.

While Salamon often utilizes a gritty tone that references his appreciation for John Scofield, hes also moving towards greater warmth. Empty Heart, a lyrical ballad that flows gracefully despite its 3-4-3 metric irregularity, has a 7/4 middle section thats just outré enough harmonically to give the piece added depth. On the more mainstream ballad The Lonely Tune, Salamon demonstrates increasing confidence in going it alone. His self-contained introduction could easily have gone on longer. But Salamon is a democratic leader, and everyone gets plenty of room to move here and elsewhere on the disc.

The guitarist's motif-oriented constructive approach to soloing is remarkably developed. His extended solo on the jagged One for Steve Lacy, supported by Rainey alone, is a case of one motif explored and enhanced, gradually evolving into another. And another. By the solos end, all reference to the initial idea is gone, but the trip is logical and clearly intentioned.

The spirit of Ornette remains strong in Salamons writing. The lengthy theme of the staggered but still swinging A Melody for Her opens up to freer interplay between Salamon, Helias and Rainey, as does the even more idiosyncratic Wheres the Bill, a tip of the hat to the wry humour of Bill Frisell.

It's a given that Malaby, Helias and Raineywhose unencumbered adaptability is increasingly evident with every session he doesare as elastic as Salamons writing. In many cases a recording where a relative unknown hires more visible players can come off as nothing more than a session. Two Hours, on the other hand, with its unmistakable communal engagement, makes the most of the enlisted players clear respect for the leader. If Salamons other releases this year approach the chemistry of Two Hours, then this may well be the year for this rapidly developing Slovenian find."

John Kelman -All About Jazz (March, 2006)


$12.49  (tax incl.)

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