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Thursday, December 13, 2007

Ferenc Snetberger & Markus Stockhausen - Streams (Enja, 2007) ****

Ferenc Snetberger is a Hungarian master guitarist, classically schooled, fully educated in jazz guitar, but also skilled in the Roma tradition, Brazilian and flamenco guitar. Markus Stockhausen is in that sense very close to him, but then on trumpet. Both musicians can converse in any musical idiom, and that was clearly the basis for this collaboration, for which they first had some free improvization amongst themselves, then they listened to the result together, took out the best pieces, wrote them down and further expanded upon them. Furthermore, the two musicians have recorded and played together many times, and that also led to the closeness you can experience on this very intimate and expansive music. The overall tone is reminiscent of what has been called ECM-style jazz, as created by musicians such as Kenny Wheeler, Jan Garbarek, Bill Connors, Egberto Gismonti. There are no rough tones, there is no sign of anger, violence or agression, no hard feelings, just impressionistic wonder, the search for aesthetic beauty and clarity of execution. And more often than not, in the hands of less skilled artists, this leads to some dull or flat experience, yet on this album the music itself and the musicianship are just too good to let this happen. A real treat.

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