The Pascal Niggenkemper Trio released Urban Creatures in 2010. The CD was recorded at the Loft, Koln Germany in 2008. Niggenkemper a double bassist leads the band and is the producer of the project. A project he is mostly responsible for, penning all of the compositions with the exception of "Tomorrow" by saxophonist Robin Verheyan and "Day After Tomorrow" by drummer/pianist Tyshawn Sorey.
Opening with "Brothers" the musicians immediately put it all out there, setting the record straight that they have come to play and play they can. A fast tune that has much in the way of individualization, displaying a talented trio of musicians.
The second composition of the album entitled "rush hour in the bathtub" is also played in a rapid tempo. There is a helter skelter feel to this song that makes me think of the organized chaos one may encounter crossing a busy street in Manhattan. The starts and stops of saxophone by Verheyan are overlaid on a revolving current of percussive vibrations as master beater Tyshawn Sorey expertly flies around the solid bottom end laid down by Niggenkemper.
The remaining songs are played in a moderato or adagio tempo. The songs that are drawn out in a slower pace leave more room for the musicians to experiment with sound. This is not to say that this is avant-garde music but it has an element of exploration that finds a solid structure or rhythm manipulated with off beat sounds and off kilter tones. Pauses and acoustic melodics are used to accentuate or highlight the compositions that are played throughout.
The ballad "Poeme Dans L'obscurite" features a haunting melody that has Niggenkemper opening the tune with heavy-handed melodic bass playing. The soprano sax of Verheyan enters with glowing tones while Sorey creates ambiance with background percussion thunder as if striking a gong and rolling on tympani.
A cool tune "I Am Surprised" has an element of funk to it with a rolling bass line and tick tock drumming. The serenading Verheyan, blows melodic saxophone over top of the rhythm and produces an enchanting groove.
Many of the compositions are loose, "Roger" is a good example of a tune that wanders, a trippy melody, allowing that musical space where the musicians branch out to experiment with sound.
The Pascal Niggenkemper Trio, Urban Creatures is a tastefully done production that showcases some excellent musicianship. The compositions are well thought out and interesting although they seem guarded. The first two compositions are wild and exciting while the remaining compositions never open up completely.