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Monday, May 10, 2010

Empty Cage Quartet & Soletti/Besnard - Take Care Of Floating (Rude Awakening, 2010) ****

The Empty Cage Quartet is one of those bands that I've been following with interest from their early stages, and one that has clearly evolved into more structured, often complex compositions, yet quite lyrical and full of freedom, without falling back on traditional jazz structures. Most of their albums are easy to recommend. They have also evolved from quite open-textured and long improvisations to more compact and dense music, in which the musicians build layers of sound rather than expanding in long soloing.

Adding two musicians to the band, French clarinetist Aurélien Besnard and guitarist Patrice Soletti, you would expect the density to increase into mini big band territory, yet quite the opposite is true. The music has a higher level of accessibility than the recent "Gravity" on Clean Feed, offering a light and open feel, even on dark compositions such as "Ele(jg)y" or "Only As Evidence".

The band is Kris Tiner on trumpet, Jason Mears on alto sax and clarinet, Aurélien Besnard on clarinet, Patrice Soletti on guitar, Ivan Johnson on bass, and Paul Kikuchi on drums. One of the most amazing elements is that the band rehearsed two days with the French guest musicians, and they play as if they've been part of the quartet for many years. The band's approach to composition leads to pieces that evolve suite-like, with unexpected twists and turns, change of moods and rhythms, which makes it not always easy to follow what is going on, but it increases the joy of listening in the process. You do not end up where you started. And what more do you want?

Buy from, from CDBaby or iTunes.

Buy from Instantjazz.

© stef


joesh said...

I quite agree, what an excellent group. Anyone whose interested should check out the link on the review page (here on free jazz) concerning their CD 'Hello the Damge', as it has an great link to a live performance from the group.

Maybe you can put a link to it Stef?

Hope they make it to Belgium one of these centuries!!