Three European improvising heavyweights align for an intriguing expansionist endeavor, where space, dainty subtleties, and asymmetrical underpinnings aid the organic and polytonal output of the band's multifarious developments. With orbital and darting exchanges, the trio also delves into minimalism and free-microtonal interludes amid gradually climactic choruses.
Indeed, trumpeter Jeremy Pelt is a talented individual. A rising star who boasts a reputable resume as a first-call session artist and leader, he's been in the thick of things since his graduation from the Berklee School of Music and arrival in New York City in the late 90's. Here, Pelt and his ensemble breeze through a potpourri of simmering, crisply executed bop and swing vamps. Perpetual motion and a steady stream of improvisational jaunts by the soloists, prompt remembrances of the classic Blue Note Record era, where hard bop and tuneful storylines assimilate into a consortium of vibrant counter-maneuvers, darting grooves and cunning detours.
An Italian quartet featuring Giorgia Santoro on various flutes, the program poses an abundance of intriguing paradoxes via multicultural persuasions, including movements with Indo-fusion components. Whereas, Adolfo La Volpe's, often scorching jazz-rock type electric guitar performances, delineate yet another distinct aspect within the grand schema.
Composer and reedman Andrew Sterman devises a cunning intersection between modern mainstream jazz and improvisation. No doubt, he possesses a broad music vernacular, witnessed by his recordings or performances with the likes of contemporary minimalist composer Philip Glass, amid stints with jazz legends Dizzy Gillespie and Frank Sinatra. Sterman is an artist who vividly conveys a sense of authority. With a soulful, yet commanding tone on sax, he shades the outside spectrum with modern day jazz-based notables, bassist Kermit Driscoll, pianist Mick Rossi and drummer Tim Horner.
Guitarist Terrence McManus' plight is to create a "personalized sonic language." He aligned with revered drummer, composer and bandleader Gerry Hemingway for a wide-open sonicscape on the well-received outing, Below the surface of (Auricle, 2010). Amid investigative frameworks with like-minded jazz and improvisation artists, McManus builds and uses his guitar arsenal and is making a name for himself as a stylist who flouts convention.
Last call for Happy Hour is followed by Matt Renzi's mood-evoking set, conjuring notions of a dimly lit barroom amid some joyous late-night impressionism and cogent theme-building exercises. Renzi's largely memorable compositions capture an atmosphere of a party that marches to the beat of a different drummer. With varying levels of intensity, the trio crafts an appealing sound design via interlocking movements and daintily constructed intricacies.
Canadian drummer Owen Howard is a veteran session musician, performing with the crème de la crème of modern jazz heroes. He's also an impressive solo artist, witnessed on his fifth release, Drum Lore.
Italian bassist Lorenzo Feliciati and his laudable band-mates take your listening space under siege with this hefty bag of jazz-fusion, electronica and avant-rock. They purport by a cataclysmic sequence of storylines, topped off by trumpeter Cuong Vu's scorching notes. Feliciati's booming, yet pliant lines help consummate a massive rhythmic element along with drummer Pat Mastelotto, of King Crimson and first-call session notoriety. Keyboardist Roy Powell rounds out the band makeup, where electronics, distortion and feisty improvisational segments ride atop pulsating backbeats, shadowy textures and expansive impressionism.
Profundity, variety and a multidimensional stance are a few striking attributes of the European Movement Jazz Orchestra's portfolio. With young Slovenian musicians lending their wares, the large ensemble casts a symphonic overture amid small ensemble breakouts and Kenton-like brashness. They explore the free-zone at times during various interludes, yet the musicians' collective imaginary powers intimate more than a few persuasive proposals.
A live recording culled from the quartet's appearance at a museum in Krakow, Poland., the album is an alignment of visionary musicians from France and Japan. Perhaps the more notable artist is pianist Satoko Fujii, revered for her compositions and laudable technical faculties within small, medium-size and large ensembles. Fuji and trumpeter Natsuki Tamura reengage on this expansive set, where the avant-garde is fused into an organization of captivating and in some instances, mind-bending pieces, sans any limiting factors.