Thursday, April 25, 2019

Angelika Niescier - New York Trio (Intakt Records, 2019)

Highly lauded alto saxophonist Angelika Niescier is based on the European continent, but she has made excellent albums with American musicians that have borne fruit, creating consistently good small group modern jazz. This is another fine entry in her discography, where she is joined by Chris Tordini on bass, Gerald Cleaver on drums and trumpeter Jonathan Finlayson on several tracks. Opening track “The Surge” has fast alto saxophone and drums with trumpet sounding good, with a choppy melody led by keen and fun saxophone and drumming, leading to a fast paced and lively performance. There is some swift saxophone and drum dialogue that sounds really hell-bent for leather, with thick bass in-between holding things together. This evolves into a collective improvisation with the addition of trumpet, then a short and powerful drum solo. They drive to the finish in a strong form led by the leader's excellent saxophone playing that can swoop from sounding like a clarinet to a buzzing saxophone. There is quieter and more intricate interplay on “Cold Epiphany,” using bowed bass and smeared percussion, adding a dark and foreboding sensation to the rhythm play. A light cone of saxophone opens up and spreads across, gaining speed with bowed bass and shimmering cymbals. "...ish" comes crashing in with cutthroat full group improvisation with saxophone, bass and drums playing at high speed the group does speed up even further, into bright and forward thinking jazz with wonderfully ripe sounding alto saxophone, active drumming generating power into a wide branching improvisation at a boiling speed. They race to the finish line, playing gutsy and spicy improvised music. Long yearning tones of saxophones open "Ekim" with a distinctive touch echoed by bowed bass and trumpet, playing emotional and patient music. The music matures from this opening tranquility, into a trumpet solo that emerges over plucked bass and cymbal play that is respectful to the end. "Push / Pull" has tough bass and drums with sharp alto saxophone that is brash and strong, tearing at the very air around it. A powerful three way improvisation develops with everything moving like clockwork with percussion and elastic bass leaving plenty of room for the saxophone and drums to drive the music forward, with Finlayson's trumpet entering late for shrill, yet exciting commentary. The trumpet solo is over bounding bass and crisp drumbeats sounds great, building complex and enjoyable improvisation. The musicians are excellent navigators, never lost, no matter how strong the storm. Drums crash in hard and unaccompanied on “5.8” soon joined by thick bass and light sounding alto saxophone creating a tight sounding performance that circles the music's event horizon. Faster plucked bass and energetic drumming and alto gain speed, and reach out into a powerful music that is energetic or highly spirited, digging deep and using varying rhythmic approaches that keep the music interesting. The album is closed by "A Truck Passing a Clock Tower" where soft saxophone and bass intertwine in open synthesis adding percussion, developing cells of freedom and a quick sprint to the finish. This album worked quite well, she has a unique and personal approach to jazz that has begun to integrate Niescier's interest in the American composer John Cage which will make her music very interesting to follow going forward. New York Trio - amazon.com

Send comments to Tim.