Peter Natterer: The Passing (2006)
Electronic manipulation and saxophones go back a long timeremember reedman Rahsaan Roland Kirk's phrase "boogie electric"? The best-known might be tenor saxophonist Eddie Harris, who played the Varitone (an electric saxophone made by Selmer). Many have been known to blow electronic horns, including Michael Brecker, Marshall Allen and Wayne Shorter, to name but a few.
What Austrian tenor saxophonist Peter Natterer brings to the table is an almost synthesizer-like quality in which he alternates between using and not using electronic effects. According to the press release for this album, Natterer is interested in transitions and how technological events are changing our everyday life. This recording definitely keeps these ideas in mind.
The Passing is broken down into four sets, almost like mini-suites. Set one is the longest, comprising six tunes. "The Monks of Herrnbaumgarten" has ambient sounds like an ocean waves, while "BassAnno2001" recalls the feeling of "Besame Mucho," except it is a little funkier and more angular. Guitarist Gerald Gradwohl adds a rock-edged sound to the piece, while drummer Farid Al-Shami keeps it grooving throughout. "History," a slower, more relaxed number in which bassist Richard Barnert gets some solo time, also features some of Natterer's synthesizer-type effects while Gradwohl is playing edgy chords in the background.
Set two starts with "Tritone Barrier," which is reminiscent of Ornette Coleman's harmolodic sound. "Rag Attack!" has a Medeski Martin & Wood-esque groove. Al-Shami plays a fairly heavy backbeat while Natterer solos on tenor saxophone and Gradwohl plays a more distorted guitar sound once again.
Set three begins with the title track. Barnert's bass starts a repeating figure with the drummer playing the top of the cymbal. The melody is sad, yet not depressing; the piece almost has a ballad-like feel. "No Shadow-Just Light" is more acoustic than some of the other pieces. Gradwohl plays more of a jazz-style guitar solo here and Natterer takes a fairly conventional tenor saxophone solo as well.
Set four consists of just one piece, "Alma," which features Natterer multitracking himself on saxophones with electronic effects. This is the shortest set on the record.
This album covers a lot of ground, and while it might not be viewed by some as having a lot of focus, it seems to hang together well from a conceptual standpoint and effectively shows an example of the diversity of what modern jazz offers today.
Track Listing: The Monks Of Herrnbaumgarten; RyanE; 15 Cents Up; BassAnno2001; History; Choral; Tritone Barrier; Rag Attack!; The Passing; No Shadow - Just Light; Alma.
Personnel: Peter Natterer: tenor saxophone, effects; Gerald Gradwohl: guitars; Richard Barnert: bass; Farid Al-Shami: drums.