Sunday, September 2, 2012

4tet - Different Song - Step into the Future [Leo Records]

4tet - Different Song:
Yang Jing - pipa, gugin
Michael Wintsch - piano
Baenz Oester - double bass
Norbert Pfammatter - drums, percussion

Leo Records 2012

I Hope you're familiar with 2009 release by WHO trio "Less is more" by (WHO stays for Michael Wintsch, Gerry Hemingway and Baenz Oester) - a brilliant and beatifully spare and subtle music, a minimalistic view on modern piano trio.
Now, the present cd share many qualities with that, to begin with two of trio's members playing together again, Norbert Pfammatter is filling the drums spot and this oh-so-traditional line-up of jazz trio is expanded by Yang Jing who plays traditional chinese instruments : pipa and guqin. Needless to say this particular detail makes a huge difference.

Jing's pipa expands the band's sound palette (and it's clear timbre fits perfectly with the gentle chords of piano) and extend's soul of the music toward the far East. Not only with the evident ethnic elements present in most of the melodies (like the charming "Farewell to and old friend" that starts the cd) but most of all because of the music's mood, solemn and cerebral. The trio's approach is a continuation of "Less is more" motto - those are storytellers who choose their words wisely, and this artistic strategy fits perfectly with the visions of high mountains of Tibet, with the sense of monk's meditations, pictures of chinese life and land. There's some sense of royal dignity, modesty in the way those musicians play together.
The centerpiece of the album is Step in to the future, a five-piece suite featuring the most open improvisations of the album, intense yet minimal, with all the dramatic tension hidden just beneath the surface. And if you think about Asian culture this music seems its perfect metaphore - subtle, sophisticated, with all the emotions present right beneath the surface, hidden to the external world. There's "Cafe' longtemps" by Oester, a slow tempo piece based on three-notes repetition by bass. Cerebral, pure and in all its simplicity there's something majestic to the main melody. The short "Les mots lisses" is based upon a swift run with curious piano counterpoints to melody played by pipa. "QuinXu Street No.48" is a piece of utmost lyricism, utterly charming, with piano solo that is mysterious and gripping (commented sparingly by melodic tones of plates). 
While the level of playing is universally outstanding my deep appreciation goes to Norbert Pfammatter whose melodic choices (sonore use of thin plates) underline perfectly the group's playing throughout the cd. Wise men (and women) do not need show the world how world they are and accordingly those vituosos choose their notes with the sense of purpose, narration, focus and direction that puts their respective inputs in perfect balance and harmony.  

This cd presents some of the most accomplished efforts in the field of ethno-jazz fusion, although this label doesn't seem to do it justice. It's not an exotic curiousity but a true intercultural meeting. A reunion that is based upon respect and openness. And as the result, you can share some moments of pure beauty.  Lyrical, subtle, enchanting.

the cd is featured in the playlist presented 10.09.12.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for a great review. Ordered it & looking forward to the music. Norbert Pfammatter is a great drummer and, among his many projects, is a part of Elina Duni Quartet, whose CDs I'd most highly recommend.


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