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The Pond by Manuel Mengis Gruppe 6

His debut release Into the Barn was one of the unanticipated surprises of 2005. And as the liners intimate, Swiss trumpeter Manuel Mengis doesn’t rush into things: hence the three year gap between outings. However, there’s nothing wrong with being focused and methodical, especially when the artist incorporates disparate genres into the jazz idiom amid tightly woven little-big band horns arrangements and scorching jazz-rock movements. With that in mind, Mengis pursues a kaleidoscopic array of harmonic overtures that are clearly defined and precisely executed throughout this splendid follow-up. On the flip side, the trumpeter affords his instrumentalists numerous opportunities to explore and reconstruct an amalgamation of mini-themes.

Mengis and his sextet project a varied spectrum of ideas, spanning free improv to excursions into the quieter side of matters. Yet the bulk of the material is founded within interweaving horns and abrupt shifts in strategy, where dynamics play an important role. Nonetheless, Mengis is an articulate composer who also blurts out notes with a brazen tone. Many sub-plots are inherently deep within his frameworks, where high-impact bop vamps are sometimes rendered atop brisk backbeats and the up-tempo three-man horns choruses.

Electric guitarist Flo Stoffner stretches out via reverse loops and ominously designed voicings on "Song for Violet." Here, the band dishes out a bustling rock groove and then finalizes the piece with a string of highs and lows. Then in other spots, they forge mood-evoking passages into the largely, zestful musical parameters. At times, the sextet surges onward with a cyclonic gait. But Mengis’ ability to fuse multiple perspectives into a distinct musical persona provides the knockout blow. If we have to wait three years for his next solo venture, so be it. Quality wins out over quantity in most every instance....

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Manuel Mengis Gruppe 6
  • CD Title: The Pond
  • Genre: Progressive
  • Year Released: 2008
  • Record Label: hatOLOGY
  • Musicians: Manuel Mengis (trumpet), Achim Escher (alto saxophone), Roland von Flue (tenor saxophone, bass clarinet), Flo Stoffner (electric guitar), Marcel Stalder (electric bass), Lionel Friedli (drums)
  • Rating: Four Stars
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