Quinsin Nachoff: Horizons Ensemble (2008)
Saxophonist and composer Quinsin Nachoff continues his journey into chamber and contemporary music in his quest to extrapolate musical forms, as he leans into classical music and tempers it with his sense of jazz harmony. The two streams, reflected in his compositions, entwine and flow majestically on his self-released Horizons Ensemble. His players rise to meet the challenges. Neither John Taylor (piano) nor Ernst Reijseger (cello) are strangers to challenges. They bring in their own progressive sense of time and movement to endow the music.
Nachoff is the linchpin. His writing is sturdy yet pliant. He keeps the structure steady for ensemble play, while giving the musicians room to improvise. The balance the band brings is striking and profound; the music elevates and thrills with its resplendence.
Nachoff's technique on both the soprano and tenor saxophones is exemplary, but it is his creativity and the ability to fathom the unusual that elevates. That works just fine in collaboration with the conceptualizations of Taylor and the exquisite tonality of Reijseger. A definite plus are the violins, which add a sense of majesty.
"African Skies" opens to the piano of Taylor, who landscapes the melody, emphasizing it with his chords. He is flush with ideas as he swerves and dips, changing direction and tempo. Nachoff and Reijseger thicken the atmosphere, and in doing so, enhance the tapestry through a swirl of colourful notes. The melody, blooded by the violins, harkens intensity and charges the atmosphere.
"Cartoon-Scape" opens as a free-for-all, with Nachoff, Reijseger and Taylor playing fast and loose. Structure is sacrificed on the altar of invention. Surprise, however, is the cornerstone, and Nachoff straddles structure and improvisation in harmony. Reijseger and Bonin get in a conversation of angular bowing before Nachoff pegs the momentum with muscular tenor lines.
Nachoff has been pegging away steadily over the years with several tantalizing records. It is a crowded arena to be sure, but class has to tell. It's nigh time that Nachoff gains the wide recognition he richly deserves.
Track Listing: Bogardus Place; Desert Landscape; A River Remembers Rain; Cartoon-Scape; Glacial Lake ; African Skies.
Personnel: Quinsin Nachoff: tenor and soprano saxophones; John Taylor: piano; Ernst Reijseger: cello; Nathalie Bonin: violin I; Parmela Attariwala: violin II.
Style: Modern Jazz