Klare / Platz / Kneer / Elgart: Modern Primitive (2012)
Steeped in various aspects of jazz tradition as much as it is on the cutting edge, the sonic territory covered by Modern Primitive is vast, to say the least. The music here, all freely improvised, has a warmth and immediacy that comes from intense, shared listening. Though there are no tunes or changes per se, that each player has an extensive background in modern jazz and other non- improvised music is quite evident. Historically, this is something that a lot of free improvising musicians try to hide. Instead, this quartet uses its "inside" musical chops to its advantage, producing a truly cohesive collective sound that moves from sweet melancholy to the brink of total chaos and back in the blink of an eye.
Drummer Bill Elgart is probably the best known name here. The American expat is best known for his collaborations with pianist Paul Bley, vibraphonist Karl Berger, and saxophonist Lee Konitz, to name a few. His innate sense of swing and tendency towards restraint in the face of heated exchanges between the other players is critical throughout Modern Primitive, particularly on "Meat Dress" and "Puppet Party."
Elgart has also worked extensively with bassist Meinrad Kneer, which is evident in their deeply connected playing throughout. Kneer is a highly responsive player, anchoring the music with muscular boppish lines ("Beekeeper's Song," "Meat Dress") or wailing away, horn-like, in the upper registers ("Blank Mask," "Can You Hear The Rain?").
Highly impressive is the work of veteran electric guitarist Jeff Platz, another American expat who's worked with multi-instrumentalists Daniel Carter and Joe Morris, and saxophonist Jim Hobbs. Like Elgart, Platz is an unpredictable, mercurial player whose sound, while rooted in the jazz tradition, can go anywhere at any time. His slide guitar work on "A Gently Sloping Knoll" is a welcome, whimsical surprise. Platz tantalizes further on "Impish Episode" where he whips a fuzzbox out of the musical ether. Multi-reed man Jan Klare, a frequent associate of Platz, has a pleasantly throaty, somewhat Ornette Coleman-like sound on alto. His clarinet playing is mobile and authoritative, bringing John Carter to mind.
Modern Primitive lives up to its name in the best possible way, combining instant music-making with beguiling craftsmanship in a variety of forward-looking contexts.
Track Listing: Beekeepers Song; Can You Hear The Rain?; Meat Dress; A Gently Sloping Knoll; Blank Mask; Grain by Grain; Puppet Party; Impish Episode; Mutual Agreement.
Personnel: Jan Klare: alto saxophone, clarinet, flute; Jeff Platz: guitar; Meinrad Kneer: double bass; Bill Elgart: drums.