Friday, August 12, 2016

Nova Express Quintet – Andras: The Book of Angels Volume 28 (Tzadik, 2016)

Nova Express is one of John Zorn’s most interesting and unusual groups, an mellow and atmospheric quartet. This is the group’s first album of compositions from the Book Of Angels, and they add percussionist Cyro Baptista to create an even deeper rhythmic foundation. In addition to Baptista on congas and percussion the group consists of Joey Baron on drums, Trevor Dunn on acoustic and electric basses, John Medeski on organ and piano and Kenny Wollesen on vibraphone. “Meresin” opens the album with vibes and percussion, while the organ swirls around in an atmospheric fashion. There is a medium up-tempo pace established which builds to an epic organ solo with the vibes and percussion developing a nice rhythm. The group establishes a mellow and slinky feel to “Yofiel” with soft piano, bass and drums framed by shimmering chime-like vibes. “Sabiel” has an understated organ and percussion groove as the vibes glide over the surface of the music. Subtle hand percussion helps the music to develop an evocative rhythm, and the group becomes akin to a very refined percussion ensemble. There is a haughty melody to “Hemah” almost like a procession, before the band switches on a dime to a swinging piano, bass and drums trio, followed by Wollesen’s vibes which saunter in and make a fine light statement. The indirect groove and rhythm of “Sahiviel” gives the music a mysterious feel that the band carries into “Ramiel” which is a swaying and swirling performance that is very pleasant with like cymbals play over a grooving organ to make a very deep pocket. Quiet organ and cymbals washing like waves and develop in “Ithuriel,” making a haunting melody moves into an oppressive emotional atmosphere. “Kakabel” has mysterious shimmering vibes with bass and light drumming. The vibes have a sustained ringing with organ burbling organ making for an eerie air. After the spare piano based ballad “Huzia” before the band finishes with the interesting song “Tatrusia” with haunting organ that picks up to a percussive feel. The music thickens with the gradual addition of thick bass and drums locking in with the organ and grooving to the finish. Andras: The Book of Angeles Volume 28 -

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