Robert Bachner Quintet: Traveling Hard (2007)
Yes, Austrians also speak the universal language of jazz, and without any discernible accent, as trombonist Robert Bacher and his quintet prove on Traveling Hard, Bachner's second recording as leader of this group. Bachner, a world-class player, composed and arranged each of the album's seven selections, and it would be difficult to find fault with any of them.
Bachner shares the front line with another resourceful improviser, Christian Maurer, who divides his time between soprano and tenor sax; the duo is capably supported by a sturdy rhythm section anchored by drummer Christian Salfellner. Salfellner solos smartly whenever summoned, as do pianist Reinhard Micko and bassist Uli Langthaler.
The quintet opens brightly with "Traveling Hard, which Bachner has dedicated to "all people whose job requires a lot of travel. The high-mileage chart encompasses driving solos by Bachner, Maurer (on soprano), Micko and Salfellner. "Standard of Reference is Bachner's response to someone who suggested that he play a "standard on his new album, "Sad Frank a crisp minor blues written in memory of the late Frank Rosolino, who inspired many a jazz trombonist, including Bachner (a stimulus that is clear in his agile solo).
The inscrutably named "Public Secret, actually a soulful ballad, precedes the bustling "Backup, originally written for the low-brass oriented group Heavy Tuba. Although the next title, "From 4 and to 2 and, is another head-scratcher, everything falls neatly into place when Bachner explains that "4 and (4 and 1/2) added to "2 and (2 and 1/2) equals 7the meter used in most of the composition. He and the others have no problem with that, nor do they with the leisurely finale, "Early Dream, a melodic mood piece with ardent blowing by Maurer (on tenor), Bachner and Micko.
If there's a downside to Traveling Hard, it lies in the album's 45-minute playing time, but one must concede that few of those minutes are squandered. In sum, a splendid second effort by Bachner's close-knit ensemble, and easily recommended, as is Bachner's recent big band album, Moments of Noise.
Track Listing: Traveling Hard; Standard of Reference; Sad Frank; Public Secret; Backup; From 4 and to 2 and; Early Dream (45:38).
Personnel: Robert Bachner: trombone; Christian Maurer: soprano, tenor saxophone; Reinhard Micko: piano; Uli Langthaler: bass; Christian Salfellner: drums.