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Thursday, August 6, 2015

Stefano Scodanibbio, Stockhausen, Bouman, Ottaviucci & Nauseef - Spaces & Spheres (Wergo, 2013) ****

[b]By Stef[/b]

Another release which could have been reviewed earlier. A kind of superband with five virtuosi joining forces for an ethereal journey of atmospheric music that is deeper than the title would suggest. The band are Markus Stockhausen on trumpet and flugelhorn, Tara Bouman on clarinet and bass clarinet, Stefano Scodanibbio on double bass, Fabrizio Ottaviucci on piano, and Mark Nauseef on percussion.

The music itself was recorded in 2008 already, at Elmau Castle in the Bavarian Alps in Germany. The  quintet met for four days and they played together intuitively, without any concepts or prior agreements. Why it took six years to release the music on CD is a mystery, but I guess there's more good music lying around waiting for listeners.

 So how does it sound? It sounds grand, with Stockhausen's trumpet echoing and resonating in the great space of the hall in which it was recorded, with Scodanibbio's arco adding gravity and Nauseef's percussive beats creating dramatic effects, Bouman's clarinet then echoing the trumpet with a sound of majestic purity, lightly supported by Ottaviucci's crystal clear piano keys. There is intimacy here, yet strangely enough equally expansive in sound and mood. There is no rawness, all sounds are polished and clean of voice as in classical music, yet the open textures, the inventive interaction and the deep listening skills of the five performers are exceptional, as is their art of playing unison during improvised moments.

Stockhausen describes his Intuitive Music as "the deepest and most fascinating way to make music: it is free, beyond all stylistic boundaries, rising out of the moment, without discussion, purely from the inner spirit guiding the player or players". It could be the slogan for this blog. 

The album is dedicated to Stefano Scodanibbio who passed away in 2012.

A beautiful and rich album, which could have been an ECM release, just for reference.