Venerable New York City-based modern jazz saxophonist Tim Berne composed the liners for Swiss drummer Lucas Niggli's Crash Cruise. And while both have generated a signature musical persona, the artists do share similarities due to their proclivities on various musical fronts.
With his long-running and irrefutably excitable band Zoom, the drummer reaffirms his stature as a progressive jazz motivational force via his energized comps, loaded with pulsating beats and knotty digressions. On this endeavor he aligns with the Arte Quartet, which is a saxophone unit that has performed with artists including Berne and guitar great Fred Frith. Here, the musicians align forces for a hoda gepodge of pumping polyrhythmic flows, often dappled with rapidly-paced themes.
They skirt the free realm on occasion, and take motifs down to a slow crawl in spots. However, the band doesn't lull you into a trance-like state for long, as they often regenerate various movements into rolling and tumbling scenarios. They elicit vast degrees of imagery, whether the band seemingly navigates through forbidding terrain or partakes in rocketing choruses.
On "Shibusa's, Niggli pursues striking rhythmic contrasts, where the horn players lay back and then engage in frenzied choruses, leading into an Ornette Coleman-ish melody line. The instrumentalists touch upon the chamber element during the dark and ethereal "Reflex, accentuated by guitarist Philipp Schaufelberger's nimble and intricately engineered chord voicings. But shifts in momentum typify the band's gait. With complex unison phrasings to complement an undercurrent built on pop, swing and zip, Niggli and associates succeed where many others fail. They merge a gamut of emotive aspects into a set that hits from a multitude of angles. Focused, and semi-structured, Niggli encapsulates history of modern music into a mark of distinction that is clearly his own.
Personnel: Nils Wogram: trombone, melodica, voice; Philipp Schaufelberger: guitar; Lucas Niggli: drums, percussion; Beat Hofstetter: soprano and tenor sax; Sascha Armbruster: alto, soprano and tenor sax; Andrea Formenti: tenor and soprano sax; Beat Kappeler: baritone and soprano sax.