JazzWrap review by Stephan Moore

Igor Lumpert / Martin Kuchen

Innertextures Live (CF 257)
Trespass Trio - Bruder Beda (CF 251)
Two divergent releases from Portuguese label, Clean Feed, filled my listening over the last few days. And they are both worth checking out for different reasons.

Born in Slovenia but raised on the diverse traditions of both American and European Jazz, Igor Lumpert has a style that is both relaxed and complex. His training and performing with the likes of Reggie Workman, Buster Williams and Chico Hamilton to name a few probably has a lot to do it. But on Innertextures Live, Lumpert’s third release as leader, he begins to shape his voice, vision and destiny.

Innertextures seems to be a revolving cast of musicians that each delicately and diversely interprets Lumpert’s richly molded compositions. This approach reminds me of a less cerebral approach to Chicago Underground, led by Rob Manzrek. But here, Lumpert is more concerned with taking the listener on a journey of colourful expressions and hard bop tonality.

“Still Dreaming” gets things off to delightful start. Tordini’s slow infectious bassline is wrapped tightly by the always exciting Waits kit. Lumpert throws bold and muscular notes that intersect at various points with his bandmates but shows that this live outing is going modern but with a few twist and turns. “Perug” rips along in furious succession. Tordini and Waits are giving space to create some nice, big solos with lots of creative pace. Lumpert’s fury throughout this piece felt like mid-period Coltrane.

Lumpert shows great skill and beauty on “This Is For Billy Holiday.” A lovely ballad with poise and passion. It’s heavy and introspective but filled with Lumpert taking a delicate and exact approach. This piece really shows the diversity in his performance and compositions on Innertextures Live.

Remaining introspective but moving almost completely in the opposite direction, Swedish reedman, Martin Kuchen returns with a set from his Trespass Trio. Molded and wrapped in more layers than the previous two sessions with this trio, Kuchen explores more personal family history (which he has done in recent years). This time about his relative who was a World War I Jewish German veteran who later became a Monk. A passionate and intense celebration can be felt throughout the trio debut, Bruder Beda (named for the relative).

There is a deep sense of solitude from the piece “Don’t Ruin Me.” Per Zanusi and Raymond Strid provide a Jewish heritage backdrop with their steady notes and rhythm. This allows Kuchen to stretch and create a dialogue that tells the story smoothly but with thick texture. “Todays Better Than Tomorrow” feels like a suite. The opening movement is a rich cavalcade of emotions led by Kuchen. This moves effortlessly into quiet, atmospheric tones which Strid does a good majority of the improvising. The final movement sees the trio rejoining its original themes with a harder edge and then gently taking the listener downward to fade out.

The blistering “A Different Koko” and the third outtake of “Ein Krieg In Einem Kind” both present Kuchen’s ability to scale the heights of free form expression but also still maintain a sense of inner depth. That density is something even the non-familiar Kuchen listener can be drawn to. Kuchen’s lyricism envelops you by the end of this emotional journey. Very exciting work.

Igor Lumpert’s Innertextures Live is a wonderful work of romanticism and hard bop that is slightly not what you expect from the avant garde jazz label. Marting Kuchen again shows that he is one of the talented and well-sought after musicians on the European scene with Bruder Beda. With two ends of the spectrum represented – one with a modern approach, the other more spiritual and thought-provoking. You would do well to experience both of these great saxophonists. Highly Recommended and richly enjoyable.
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