...And now, for something a little different....
In addition to the mainstream, Naxos Jazz has made quite a reputation for itself by releasing a daredevil challenging fare of jazz. Mike Nock's Not We But One (86006-1), Niko Schauble's On The Other Hand (86011-2), Lenni-Kalle Tiapale's Nothing to Hide (86035-2), and Lan Xang's Hidden Gardens (86046-2) are just four of the releases that are quite "out there."
Now the label has really topped itself. Panta Rei is a bit indescribable. It is jazz, to be sure. But, it recombinantly reconstituted jazz, jazz incubated and modified, making itself fresh, as Be Bop did at the end of the Swing Era. Do not mistake Nada for the Manhattan Transfer, New York Voices, of even Lambert, Hendricks, and Ross. No, these three ladies and one man are cut from a different cloth, and a European one at that.
Nada is the brainchild of conservatory-trained Municher Bettina Koziol. She serves as music director and composer. Classicist Merit Ostermann and the musically omnivorous Beate Sampson join Ms. Koziol in Nada. The lone male in the bunch, Braunschweig's Martin Klingeberg, who toots the trumpet as well as sings. The remainder of the band is made up of a core rhythm section of bass and drums. Munich bassist Martin Zenker, late of Ugetsu ( Cape Town Blues, Naxos Jazz, 86052-2), provides the bedrock and American drummer Bill Elgart brings his experience from performing with Sam Rivers, John Tchcai, and Paul Bley into the creative fray.
This sparse instrumentation, devoid of harmony instruments, sets up a potent, open environment for vocal invention. This music is Acappella synergy, the sum greater than its parts. The performance is a metastatic exploration of genre, style, and substance. This sets up the listener for a densely ethereal, atmospheric experience. The trio of Ostermann, Simpson, and Klingberg can emulate Ellington muted-trumpets or Basie pianissimo tenor saxophones. Koziol's scat singing can either sound like a classical Ella Fitzgerald or a jazzy Berio Sequenza. Koziol is not the end all. All of the vocalists have the spotlight and all bring that little bit of genius to the mix.
Talking about individual pieces is pointless in recordings like Panta Rei. This is oddly magnificent music. I find myself in January and already starting my "best of 2002" list with Panta Rei.
Another Bossa Nova; Mirrors; Serena; Panta Rei; Going On; Inside Me; Out Of Her Mind; Involved; I Scare Myself; Panic; Passion; North Star. (Total Time: 56.40).
Bettina Koziol: Vocals; Merit Ostermann: Vocals; Beate Sampson: Vocals; Martin Kingeberg: Vocals, Trumpet; Martin Zenker: Bass; Bill Elgart: Drums.