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Sebastian Gille: Anthem (2012)

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Sebastian Gille: Anthem How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

The most famous and venerable German record label is ECM Records, Manfred Eicher's brainchild, founded in 1969 and still going strong with now more than twelve hundred recordings in its catalog. But there is a German upstart, Pirouet Records, which has been in the business of offering up its own musical vision since the early 2000s, with a multinational stable of artists including American pianists Marc Copland
Marc Copland
Marc Copland
b.1948
piano
, Bill Carrothers
Bill Carrothers
Bill Carrothers
b.1964
piano
and Kevin Hays
Kevin Hays
Kevin Hays
b.1968
keyboard
, British-born saxophonist Loren Stillman
Loren Stillman
Loren Stillman
b.1980
sax, alto
and Belgian bassist Nicolas Thys and his fellow countryman, saxophonist Robin Verheyan. And many more.

Sebastian Gille is a German saxophonist and the leader on Anthem, a quartet set that showcases Gille's distinctive compositional voice on saxophones and alto clarinet, inside an exploratory and egalitarian ensemble. With two covers, Kurt Weill's "Barbara-Song" and the Goell/Speilman-penned "You Won't Forget Me," to go along with six Gille originals, the quartet crafts a tranquil and beautifully measured music that is introspective and often haunting.

"Blossom" opens the set on Robert Landfermann's rumbling bass before pianist Pablo Held
Pablo Held
Pablo Held
b.1986
piano
and drummer Jonas Burgwinkel enter with a gentle splash, leading into the incipient blooming of the leader's tart saxophone. The group gathers to a turbulent crescendo then tapers down like a storm that blew through, leaving gentle sprinkles and breezes behind as Held takes a supple, crystalline solo. "Gray" gives off a lonesome, late-night shimmer mood, and Held searches with an elegant touch behind Gille's winding lines.

Not yet thirty years old, Gille has developed a distinctive voice of his own on saxophone. Favoring the higher reaches of the tenor, the closest comparison to his sound would be that of alto saxophonist great Lee Konitz
Lee Konitz
Lee Konitz
b.1927
sax, alto
: sharp, with a bit of a blur around the edges, and possessed of the ability the string out long, labyrinthine lines that loop into lovely but rather "out there" melodic threads.

The tenderest moment on Anthem (and there are many) arrives with the closer, "You Won't Forget Me." The ensemble flows into a melancholy prayer—six engrossing minutes of collective genius that evokes a lonely, slightly anguished mood to perfection, to wrap up an extraordinary debut.

Track Listing: Blossom; Gray; Anthem; Embrace; Charisma; Barbara-Song; Epilogue; You Won't Forget Me.

Personnel: Sebastian Gille: tenor and soprano saxophones, alto clarinet; Pablo Held: piano; Robert Landfermann: bass; Jonas Burgwinkel: drums.

Record Label: Pirouet Records


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