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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Andrew D'Angelo - Skadra Degis (Skirl Records, 2008) ****½


Three big names of modern jazz : Andrew D'Angelo on sax, Trevor Dunn on bass and Jim Black on drums. When I first listened to the CD, a strong memory of the Thomas Chapin trio arose : a powerful sax trio, which often starts tracks with a strong riff-like vamp, as the kick-off for great improvizations, always with a strong sense of melody and rhythm, fierce, hard-hitting yet at times sentimental and romantic : in other words : a weird combination but it works. The three musicians have been working in various fields of jazz, always on the look-out for new adventures, new trials and opportunities to enlargen their own horizon, mixing styles and blending genres, and it's good to hear them in such a straight-ahead trio format, yet the amazing thing is that they kind of integrate the findings from their adventures into rock, avant-garde, balkan and electronic jazz in the acoustic music they bring here. Andrew D'Angelo and Jim Black also play together in Hilmar Jenson's Tyft, and in The Human Feel, with Kurt Rosenwinkel and Chris Speed, but the music is not comparable. The Human Feel brings more composed avant-garde jazz - and I wasn't too impressed with last year's "Galore", but on this record, feeling is much more imporant than form. This album is also miles away from D'Angelo's Scandinavian aggressive hard noise free jazz adventure with the Morthana trio. One of the many qualities of this band is the variation in the compositions. The first track is powerful free bop adventure, the second starts with a strong bass line for four minutes of melodic polyrhythmic joy (with Dunn leading the dance), the third a kind of ballad that goes haywire without loosing focus, the fourth a relentless hard-hitter (with Black in a leading role), followed by the romantic more abstract "Rutloosic", which starts with a great and intense conversation between bass clarinet and arco bass, "Morthana" is built around a joyful boppy tune on alto, while "Boo Be Boo Bee Bee" (great title!) is a dark moody avant piece with long abstract lines and bowed bass evolving into pure madness alternating with an almost classical melody, collapsing into madness again, etc., while "Fichtik" is full of tender sentiment, and "Gay Disco" brings us back to Thomas Chapin territory : a high enery full speed melodic and powerful theme as lead-in for improv, with bass and drum demonstrating what it means to have rhythm! ... This combination of raw energy, melodic themes, musical adventure and emotional expressiveness works well for D'Angelo. He gets the freedom here that he seems to have missed in the past. Great album!



Anonymous said...

Andrew D'Angelo will play in our club in Belgium on May 2.