In recent years, tenor saxophonist Bertrand Denzler has recorded a number of excellent projects, many revolving around concerns outside of the jazz ambit, seeking out fascinating pathways into areas more generally associated with contemporary composition. Here, joined by bassist Joel Grip and drummer Sven-Ake Johannson, the trio revisits what strikes this listener as a fairly specific sound field, one pioneered by John Coltrane in his work of the mid-60s and extended, especially in trio form, by musicians like Sam Rivers (Grip also evoking players from Henry Grimes to Ronnie Boykins, Johansson often channeling Sunny Murray) although with at least one notable difference. They do this over the course of two discs, in four tracks ranging from about 22 to 36 minutes apiece.
It's a tall order and arguably a quixotic venture though the effort is decidedly enhanced by the sheer musical excellence of all three participants. For each stretch that they're evoking, say, a Coltrane/Garrison/Ali trio, they also provide one that extends that idea in an intriguing, often contemplative direction, as occurs some 14 minutes into the second cut, 'Timing'. Indeed, this is the difference mentioned above: that the trio never really hurtles into the kind of unbridled, ferocious playing indulged in by any number of post-Coltrane ensembles, opting instead for a generally more restrained, though always active approach. One thing that accentuates this stance is how low Denzler is mixed, his tenor possessing about the same aural weight as the bass or drums. Both of these aspects aid the cohesiveness and interest in the music. If, at the end of the day, this listener isn't entirely convinced of the overall appeal of the basic idea, nonetheless this trio pulls it off in a somewhat unexpected manner and an enjoyable one.
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