According to the press release, contrabassist Bill Noertker "paints musical portraits of the natural and supernatural world." Essentially, this notion comes to fruition in vivid fashion during this many-sided program. With an alternating ensemble, Noertker delves into avant abstractions, progressive jazz and mainstream, occasionally topped off with ominous underpinnings and cyclical rhythms.
Tenor saxophonist/flutist Annelise Zamula and alto saxophonist/flutist Jim Peterson generate a great deal of excitement, complete with ascending dialogues, linear storylines and breezy choruses. And pianist Jenny Maybee acts as the equalizer on various movements via lush voicings, fluid chords clusters and moments where she integrates a semi-classical tone into select passages.
Noertker’s compositions contain many angles and flavors to complement the mood-evoking overtones. The piece titled "L’Elephant Blanc," is devised on circular themes and an amenable harmonic gait amid a slight edge, and nicely softened by Maybee’s melodic block chords. But the musicians venture into freer territory on "What The Water Gave Me," sparked by Peterson and Zamula’s feisty flute exchanges atop an evolving and multilayered song-form.
Noertker resides as a prominent bandleader while steering the flow, and helps finalize the set on a lighthearted and somewhat melancholic note with the warm and Middle Eastern-tinged, "Virage." In sum, a divergent track mix sets the stage for a curiously interesting endeavor, highlighted by subtle surprises and multihued frameworks.