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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

David Schnitter - The Spirit Of Things (CIMP, 2008) ***½

Many free jazz musicians are of course very much indebted and usually very respectful of the traditional jazz heritage, but it is rare for them to release an album with more standards than improvised tunes, let alone on the CIMP label. And that's exactly what saxophonist David Schnitter does, assisted by Dominic Duval on bass and Newman Taylor Baker on drums. Imagine listening to "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes", played in a free mode, but very respectful for the original, including the sentimentality of it, as well as Ellington's "In A Sentimental Mood" and Monk's "Criss Cross". It's indeed rare to do that, and the great thing about the approach here is that the music is stripped of all embellishments and tinsel, with the musicians playing around with the tune's potential, showing in its naked beauty, uncovering it's soul. On top of that, the material seems to get the best out of them, leading to some great listening moments, and all that with the usual direct sound quality the label is known for. And I must say that I find that the tracks penned by Schnitter himself are the best of the album, probably because they offer the free-est environment for this great trio to perform.

© stef