Chris Speed - sax, clarinet
Jacob Anderskov - piano
Michael Formanek - double bass
Gerald Cleaver - drums
ILK Records 2012
Jacob Andrskov has already proven himself as a great composer, bandleader and a piano player on numerous occasions, including the big ensemble Anderskov Accident "Full Circle". Agnostic Relelations is an acoustic quartet to gather to gather truly stellar Chris Speed, Michael Formanek and Gerald Cleaver.
"Granular Alchemy" starts with the elegant theme of "Sediments", the circular, aspring, harmonious lines of piano and clarinet comence, letting off for more fervent clarinet solo and elegantly melodic and kind piano. The coda with the gentle clarinet tones descending softly on piano chords close the form.
The "Sand" is much more turbulent melodically, with more discordant piano jumps, the piece showcases two separate trios, with the freewheeling Cleaver on drums and heavy anchor of Formanek bass the saxophone can wave it's lines, followed by the impressive piano solo, right hand, both percussive and intrinsically melodic.
"Metal" is a very short piece, melancholic and moody, with delicate arco on bass, slow and pensieve. Very minimal with just a subtle brushes on the plates, soft pads on the toms, and slowly flowing melody.
The last track of the album, it's longest is "Suite:Wind / Skin", starts with tense percussive pulse, lightly swinging rhythm and clarinet solo counters the dark hues of the melody. The piece is a suite and there's much more on the way, the lone, haunting piano, the tense bass, the gracefull bass to join the melody, the energetic shift as the quartet comes back dense together and more.
"Granular Alchemy" is futher prove to Anderskov's talents as composer, pianist and bandleader and all three aspects of his artistic act are not to be underestimated. The music is balanced, varied, composed yet very open to liberty of individual expression (it's enough to see how different is the concert version of "Sand" below). It is filled the modern jazz feel combined with european, post-romantic sense of melody and harmony. The brilliant musicianship presented on the cd is no surprise to anyone knowing the musicians' names (all in top-notch form), but Agnostic Revelations is what any true art should be - a whole that is more than the sum of its parts. A very rewarding listening.