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Thursday, July 23, 2015

Máximo Endrek - Extraño Hábitat (Self, 2014) ****

[b]By Paul Acquaro[/b]

Bassist Máximo Endrek is an Córdoba, Argentina based musician whose work spans free and traditional jazz as well as orchestral music, and this trio outing with pianist Mariano Vélez and drummer Matías Romero is an excellent introduction to his improvised side. Whether the melody is explicit or implied, the piano prepared or straight forward, or the bassist is using his instrument as a textural instrument or to provide a grounding, there is always an accessible pulse to the songs of Extraño Hábitat.

The opener 'Solo Sigue al Tiempo' is a subtle but deceptively driving track. The prepared piano and melody from the bass's higher register balance precariously on the akimbo percussion. The groove is abstract and the distorted acoustic tones mix well with the regular piano sounds, helping to create a textured, energetic piece. The title track almost says it all - as the group gets into it and the tempo quickens, the bass becomes the laboratory of a mad scientist enrapt in an inspired frenzy. Vélez drops in snippets of melody and the drums push them forward. The closing track 'La Respuesta del Niño' delves into Medeski, Martin and Wood territory with a strong but unpredictable back-beat, a bass-driven melody, and repetitive motifs. While the approaches vary throughout the tracks, some pieces sparse and reflective and others brimming and forceful, the album is consistently engaging.

By carefully juxtaposing extended techniques and more straight ahead playing, Endrek has created a sound that blends an accessible approach with the essence of improvised music. Well worth checking out!