Pinton-Kullhammar-Zetterberg-Nordeson – Chant (CF 156)
If you are in the States, you may not be familiar with Alberto Pinton (baritone sax, clarinet), Jonas Kullhammar (tenor and baritone sax), Torbjorn Zetterberg, (acoustic bass) and Kjell Nordeson (drums, vibes). Yet if you listen to their recent Chant (Clean Feed) you will realize that it has been your loss.
The unusual line up of two baritones (doubling on other saxes) plus rhythm gives the session a bottom heavy texture much of the time but it sounds fresh. The band winds its way through ten compositional vehicles that they feel comfortable playing within. It’s a free-ish date with lots of improvisational space for all the players. None of them strikes me as on the verge of becoming a major stylist but that does not stop the music from being captivating and well-thought out.
Those who love the baritone will find this album to their liking. Those who like a free date with some melodic heads and a steady pulse (at least half of the time) will also find this enjoyable.
Samuel Blaser Quartet – Pieces of Old Sky (CF 151)
It’s interesting when an album so reflects in music the cover, belying the old adage that you can’t judge something by its cover and that album art is dead in the age of digital media. The stark and beautiful photography on trombonist Samuel Blaser’s album features a yellowing sky that signals either an approaching storm or a retreating one. The music on this album is analogous to these images, very open and spacious with smears of trombone and scattered percussion drifting into abstraction and then when you least expect it returning to melody. Blaser is joined on this album by guitarist Todd Neufeld, bassist Thomas Morgan and drummer Tyshawn Sorey. Moody and atmospheric sonic colors and textures play a critical role on the epic title track, which moves through sections of slow and patient improvisation. Sorey is the perfect accompanist for this album, as he has shown in his own work as a leader, he is comfortable letting the music breathe at slow tempos. It would be interesting to hear this band compose for cinema or as part of an art exhibit, the colors that they conceive with their music would blend well with art or film.