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Phil Grenadier / Bruno Raberg Duo: Plunge (2012)

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Phil Grenadier / Bruno Raberg Duo: Plunge How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

Plunge is a captivating CD that features the formidable duo of bassist Bruno Raberg
Bruno Raberg
Bruno Raberg
b.1954
bass, acoustic
and trumpeter Phil Grenadier
Phil Grenadier
Phil Grenadier

trumpet
. Each musician brings to the table their unique background and decades of experience: Råberg hails from Sweden, and in his twenties he played with the cream of Swedish jazz musicians, including trombonist Eje Thelin
Eje Thelin
b.1938
, pianist Bobo Stenson
Bobo Stenson
Bobo Stenson
b.1944
piano
and renowned singer Monica Zetterlund
Monica Zetterlund
Monica Zetterlund
1937 - 2005
vocalist
. With the magic of Scandinavian jazz firmly in his bones, Råberg emigrated to America in the early eighties, and since that time has played with top-notch musicians such as multi-instrumentalist Sam Rivers
Sam Rivers
Sam Rivers
1923 - 2011
sax, tenor
, drummer Matt Wilson
Matt Wilson
Matt Wilson
b.1964
drums
and keyboardist John Medeski
John Medeski
John Medeski

keyboard
.

Born in San Francisco, Grenadier is one of the famed Grenadier brothers, along with bassist Larry Grenadier
Larry Grenadier
Larry Grenadier
b.1966
bass
and guitarist Steve. At age 17 he was voted "Best Jazz Soloist" by Downbeat magazine, and throughout his career he has played with an illustrious roster of musicians, including everyone from singer Ella Fitzgerald
Ella Fitzgerald
Ella Fitzgerald
1917 - 1996
vocalist
and pianist Kenny Barron
Kenny Barron
Kenny Barron
b.1943
piano
to bassist Steve Swallow
Steve Swallow
Steve Swallow
b.1940
bass
.

It's hard to go wrong with two artists of such high caliber, and indeed, Plunge finds both musicians at the top of their game. The CD offers nineteen pieces, ranging from forty-five seconds to six-and-a-half minutes. The centerpiece is a sensitive rendition of saxophonist Ornette Coleman
Ornette Coleman
Ornette Coleman
b.1930
sax, alto
's "Lonely Woman"; according to Råberg's liner notes, the inspiration for the CD came after playing this tune in a quartet that included Grenadier: "I 'heard' a rich, erratic, and busy soundscape in which the beautiful melody would live. I saw images of desolate streets and a lonely person's inner turmoil, conflicting emotions, and despair. The melody symbolizes the person's heart and soul, which is striving to survive." The duo's take on this classic song is absolutely piercing, and its use of electronic effects to amplify and distort the instruments adds to the song's haunting atmosphere.

The remainder of the songs are duo improvisations, which draw from the heart of Coleman's tune and offer deeply felt musical contemplations. Standouts include the gorgeous "Last Train to Seville," where Råberg's powerful bass creates a drone that Grenadier dances on top of and dives through. "Five Short Pieces" is a suite of musical haiku whose elliptical contours possess a refreshing sparseness, while "Ushas/Quadratic" has elements of free funk, with a deliciously ominous feeling throughout. Mention must also be made of the compelling double duos on "Area 51," "Triangulum," and "Quadratic," where the pair recorded improvisations, and then improvised again over those tracks, yielding multi-layered music full of fascinating depth.

Throughout the CD, each musician plays with remarkable clarity, and Råberg's inventive sound-design stretches the music into intriguing sonic shapes. A beautiful work that covers a tremendous amount of ground, Plunge is fearless, honest and unpredictable; maybe this is the "plunge" of the title, the brave dive that both musicians take into the unknown land of improvisation, as well as the fragile interior of the human heart.

Track Listing: Reveille; Last Train to Seville; Five Short Pieces: Seiryuu - Azure Dragon, Byakko - White Tiger, Suzaku - Vermillion Bird, Genbu - Black Tortoise, Ouryu - Yellow Dragon; Lonely Woman; Heartwood; Ushas/Quadratic; Intersections I - IV: Part 1 - Moving Cycles, Part 2 - Line and Sphere, Part 3 - Sand Clock, Part 4 - Isomorphic; Area 51; The Outermost Island; Triangulum; Lizrael; Intersections V: Part 5 - Being and Time.

Personnel: Phil Grenadier: trumpet; Bruno Råberg: acoustic bass, sound design.

Record Label: Orbis Music

Style: Modern Jazz


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