Trombonist Joe Fiedler has a diverse resume that boasts membership in everything from Phillip Johnston and Gary Lucas' Fast N' Bulbous: The Captain Beefheart Project and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra to countless Latin jazz ensembles, including Ed Palermo's big band. This album however, focuses solely on one of Fiedler's own personal interests, the music of the late Albert Mangelsdorff.
Fiedler and company engage in a fairly daunting yet remarkably untried task. With an entire album of Mangelsdorff-penned tunes, Fiedler's trio certainly have a test ahead of them. The set, which spans the composer's career, acts not only as a tribute, but also a retrospective of sorts. Fiedler, bassist John Hebert, and drummer Mark Ferber make a joyful noise with the material and always maintain their own personalities, despite the shadow of the master over the proceedings.
The tunes selected take the trio on a journey from the atmospheric, long-toned, multiphonic explorations of "Mayday Hymn" to the blustery, gutbucket funk of "Wart G'Schwind." Fiedler's ably demonstrates his mastery of multiphonics with his impressive doubling impressions on "Zores Mores." What initially sounds like unison horns is actually Fiedler playing and singing dual lines at the same time. "Wheat Song" and "Lapwing" demonstrate the trio's knack for robust swing, while "An Ant Steps on an Elephant's Toe" sounds like the sort of down-home, tailgating grind that Ray Anderson would feel at home in.
As tribute albums go, this is one that transcends convention by shedding as much light on the interpreters as the dedicatee.
Personnel: Joe Fiedler: trombone; John Hebert: bass; Mark Ferber: drums.