There is something Baroque about jazz ensembles lacking a piano or guitar as a harmony instrument . Their absence frees previously occupied sonic space for other uses. The format also sets up a more pronounced contrapuntal interplay between the remaining players. The saxophone trio has become quite mainstream since Sonny Rollins
, produces a New Orleans-flavored tenor trio recording that shows how far the format has come. Tres Muse is tightly arranged, featuring precision unison playing between the three operatives and the harmony underpinnings to allow soloists broad latitude. Rather than freedom increasing entropy, Moretti specializes in a more controlled chaos.
Moretti composed all of the 11 tunes on the disc. These are mostly air pieces in spite of their regimented structure featuring Marty Ballou
often strumming electric bass chords among his harmony-rhythm duties. Drummer Marty Richards is always close in the mix, following Ballou. Moretti's landscape includes the razor staccato of "Cajun The Squirel" and the sharp R&B of "Mumbo Jumbo" where he summons enough Hank Crawford
Ballou proves melody minded on his bass solo in "Invoke" and Richard sets up some island drumming on Moretti's equivalent to Rollins' "St. Thomas""Guacamaya." The allusion is apt and comparison there. The most free piece on the disc is appropriately named "Ready Set Free" and channels the gentle spirit of Jimmy Giuffre
Alto saxophonist Jacob Duncan has got a wilder hair driving him that Dan Moretti. Duncan likes sharp edges and acute bends in his music. "Legeti Split" honors the spirit of Hungarian composer Gyorgy Ligeti (1923-2006) with an ill-behaved, John Coltrane
and drummer Jason Tienmann all go their separate ways musically. This spirit of release and freedom characterizes the disc.
The singe cover is Lady Gaga's "Paparazzi," which is great melodic fun, but is merely a vehicle for musical mayhem, as "My Favorite Things" was for Coltrane. Duncan's tone is tighter than that of Moretti, partially because of the tonal difference between the two saxophones and also because Duncan favors a more focused tone. Duncan also favors the saxophone-drums showdown that Coltrane liked to have with Elvin Jones
Duncan's sax trio offering is compelling though not necessarily ground breaking. But there is plenty of post bop to still be mined, and he has gotten a good start. The Innkeeper's Gun is a respectable addition to this newer tradition.
Munich-based Pirouet Records is trying to carve out a place between fellow citizens Winter & Winter and ECM Records. Things are getting crowded in town. Pirouet may well be the most jazz-oriented of the three, ECM living on an etheral sonic reputation well earned, and Winter & Winter specializing in all manners of progressive musical expression. Swiss reedsman Domenic Landolf plants his flag halfway between the two labels and Dan Moretti and Jacob Duncan.
Like Moretti, Landolf likes tightly scripted arrangements, but not at the expense of space and his bandmates, bassist Patrice Moret and drummer Dejan Terzic
, who share in the composing credits for the disc's 12 originals. When not playing tenor saxophone, Landolf plays the mellowest of instruments, the bass clarinet, which he does sweetly and thoughtfully on the ensemble piece "Storm Chaser" and Moret's "Fjord." He switches to alto flute for the plaintive "W.E." and "Kululeka."
The sole standard is a brief "My Old Flame," played on tenor barely tethered to the rhythm section. Landolf is as tender as Coltrane with a ballad, which is to say not at all, but the piece works as a sonic cab driving down urban back streets at night. That is the kind of music Landolf makes.