This is the debut album by a young German jazz quintet that seemingly merges the sound of the ‘60s Blue Note Records era with a thoroughly hip and inventive modern makeover. According to press release, the band has enjoyed a fair amount of critical acclaim in Europe. And after previewing this fine outing several times, it would seem that the foreign press is on the money here.
Featuring guest female vocalist Merit Ostermann on two tracks, the ensemble generates quite a bit of excitement via a smooth and noticeably radiant line of attack, coupled with punchy horn charts and more. Many of these works are segmented within a traditional modern jazz vibe, topped off with fluent post-bop type soloing by reedman Wanja Slavin and trombonist Gerhard Gschlossi. The band projects a buoyant outlook throughout, thanks to alternating cadences, and up-tempo soloing endeavors along with the ability to switch gears rather decisively. In addition, pianist Marc Schmolling injects a tinge of jazz-fusion into the proceedings with his Fender Rhodes work. And on "Nova Express," the quintet executes snappy unison choruses, firmed up by a brisk jazz-waltz groove.
Ultimately, the musicians’ project a mark of distinction, partly due to some truly memorable compositions, supplemented by a horde of subtle and altogether, tasteful surprises. They navigate tricky time signatures with near effortless ease, as they also tone matters down in spots. Simply stated, these folks have already provided the building blocks for a unique group-centric identity. And that’s saying quite a lot these days! (Recommended.... )