Friday, April 22, 2016

Uli Kempendorff's Field - Heal the Rich (Why Play Jazz, 2016) ****

By Paul Acquaro

Saxophonist Uli Kempendorff's quartet Field is guitarist Ronny Graupe, drummer Oliver Steidle, and bassist Jonas Westergaard. Their music is a great example of the vibrant and highly syncopated blend of modern bop/free jazz that seems to be pouring out of Berlin as of late (I'm thinking of groups like Die Enttäuschung and Soko Steidle).

The group acts as a tight cohesive unit on Heal the Rich and their taught interplay propels them along as they jump right into the fast-paced opener 'Dreiturwaltz'. It's an electric buzzing - charged particles of sound reacting to each other, intensifying at each contact - the guitar and sax breaking out into musical fistfights and the whole group ablaze. The follow up 'Aggressively Loving It' begins, somewhat ironically, with a subdued melodic line from Kempendorff, shadowed by Graupe. A quick push by the drums and the pulse quickens. The often understated guitar playing provides crisp and focused comping and the sax responds in kind. The abstract "Sehr Nüchtern" ('very sober'), introduces a more atmospheric vibe, as it advances like a curious dream. Percussion and off-beat tones create a soundscape that eventually coalesce into a rhythmically complex melody.

Throughout, the group's lightning quick interactions and reactions keeps the music flowing and exciting. The comfort and ease the members of Field have playing together is a treat to hear.

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