How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
Drummer Ari Hoenig has always created emotionally satisfying and challenging jazz, and his streak continues with Inversations. The bebop classic "Anthropology begins with an interplay between Hoenig on drums and pianist Jean-Michel Pilc, with bassist Johannes Weidenmueller on pizzicato. The trio executes this classic jazz groove to perfection, playing with the tempo and displaying the tune's plasticity. "Dark News, an impressionistic yet sly piece written by Hoenig, complete with haunting piano and moody arco, begins as though it will be a free piece but Hoenig throws the listener a head fake by having it become something more conventional.
Will Vinson's full-bodied alto sax gives "Rapscallion Cattle an extra kick. The varied rhythms of the tune fit the title, with Hoenig laying down the law on the drums like Elvin Jones and Vinson's urgent, rock-solid playing the highlight. "WB Blues opens with a plodding, melancholy walk by Weidenmueller, with handmade drum highlights by Hoenig that sound like a talking drum instead of a drum kit. Pilc adds a piano full of Scotch and cigarette smoke. "Farewell is in the best ECM tradition, particularly in the interplay between piano and bass. The trio's interpretation of "Falling In Love With Love is almost muted until the song brightens up into mid-tempo.
"Without Within features Jacques Schwarz-Bart on tenor saxophone on a nice mid-tempo turn; and "New Found Innocence is an off-center, driving and riveting waltz with more great, solid play all around. Hoenig returns to his 'talking drum' technique on "This Little Light of Mine, on which he also sings. That he sings off-mic indicates that the song isn't about his vocal but about the music itself.
Track Listing: Anthropology; Dark News; Rapscallion Cattle; WB Blues; Farewell; Falling In Love With Love; Without Within; Newfound Innocence; This Little Light of Mine.
Personnel: Ari Hoenig: drums, vocals; Jean Michel Pilc: piano; Johannes Weidenmueller: bass; Will Vinson: alto saxophone; Jacques Schwarz-Bart: tenor saxophone.