Pascal Schumacher Quartet: Bang My Can (2011)
Bang My Can is the Pascal Schumacher Quartet's fifth album, and it finds the band expanding its range as it creates yet more fascinating music. Schumacher, the Quartet's Luxembourg-born leader, is an exceptional vibes player with a sparkling, fluid sound that is by turns romantic, cheeky, and dark. The band has been together in this lineup since 2008, when pianist Franz Von Chossy replaced original member Jef Neve, and the players have developed a strong understanding that leads to some superb interplay.
Schumacher's "Seven Fountains" has a chamber jazz beauty, a hint of the Modern Jazz Quartet but with a little more of an edge. Bassist Christophe Devisscher's "Elmarno" and Schumacher's "Bang My Can" share a faster tempo and a more upbeat mood, while drummer Jens Düppe's "Headspin" has the driving, rocky beat of the Neil Cowley Trio. "A Fisherman's Tale," another Devisscher composition, is a slow, melancholy tune that hints at the tensions to come.
The final tunes are a stark contrast to the upbeat grace of much of the album. "No Dance On Volcano Ashes" has a beauty of its own, but it's a sad and reflective beauty, with Devisscher's bass sounding at first melancholy and then, as he builds up flurries of notes with increasing intensity, enraged. "Ghosttrackmusic" is, quite simply, disturbing. After almost a minute of silence a low bass thump begins very gradually before Schumacher overlays a short, threatening phrase on vibes. The phrase repeats, after long pauses with only the bass to be heard, before the tune fades once again into silence. It's a small masterpiecebut definitely not a tune to listen to by candlelight.
Bang My Can builds on the Pascal Schumacher Quartet's previous albums, adding tension and some genuinely dark music to an already impressively broad range of moods. This is an imaginative band, with the talent to use that imagination creatively. The resulting music puts the Quartet at the forefront of European jazz.
Track Listing: Inspector; Water Like Stone; Elmarno; Seven Fountains; Bang My Can; A Fisherman's Tale; Metamorphosis; Headspin; Taubenturm; No Dance On Volcanic Ashes; Ghosttrackmusic.
Personnel: Pascal Schumacher: vibes, glockenspiel; Franz Von Chossy; piano; Christophe Devisscher: bass; Jens Düppe: drums.
Record Label: Enja Records