3

Samuel Blaser Consort in Motion: A Mirror to Machaut

Troy Collins By

Sign in to view read count
Samuel Blaser Consort in Motion: A Mirror to Machaut Over the last few years Swiss trombonist Samuel Blaser has established himself as a significant presence in the international jazz scene. Recent activity features no less than three consecutive releases; A Mirror to Machaut is the latest in a series of engaging albums, following One From None (Fresh Sound New Talent, 2013), the debut of his co-led Quintet with Canadian bassist Michael Bates, and As The Sea (Hatology, 2013), the second recording of his regular touring Quartet.

Among his current projects, Consort in Motion is the most intriguing. The ensemble's 2011 self-titled debut featured legendary drummer Paul Motian anchoring a quartet with Blaser, pianist Russ Lossing and bassist Thomas Morgan performing adventurous reinterpretations of the early Baroque compositions of Claudio Montiverdi and his 17th century Italian contemporaries. This session, which differs in both approach and personnel, delves further into the past by adapting the late medieval court music of Guillaume de Machaut and Guillaume Dufay, while employing a more modern instrumental palette.

Since Motian's passing, Blaser reconfigured the ensemble, retaining Lossing as the sole original member. Veteran bassist Drew Gress and master drummer Gerry Hemingway helm the rhythm section, while Belgian multi-instrumentalist Joachim Badenhorst joins Blaser on the frontline. In addition to the expanded personnel, the most notable change to the lineup's instrumentation is Lossing's addition of Rhodes and Wurlitzer, whose feverish amplified tonalities imbue the proceedings with an electrifying Milesian undercurrent.

Blaser's interest in Davis' early fusion experiments can also be heard on One From None, but in this antediluvian setting the futuristic sound of Lossing's overdriven analog keyboards provides striking contrast to the date's reharmonized Gregorian plainchants. The aptly titled "Color" is exemplary, conjuring a roiling bitches brew of seething sonorities and volatile rhythms. Conversely, the stately "De fortune me doiy pleindre et loer" is given an authentically austere reading, while the lush opener, "Hymn," unites disparate threads, regaling with a series of probing solos underpinned by a latticework of hemiolas and isorhythms—contrapuntal rhythms common to the pre-Renaissance period.

Blaser himself eschews electronic effects, eliciting lyrical cadences that seamlessly alternate between introspective melancholy and expressionistic ardor, using controlled multiphonics and assorted mutes to add tonal color to his evocative statements. The stalwart rhythm section provides adroit accompaniment, with Hemingway's thunderous interpolations on the anthemic "Dame, se vous m estes lointeinne" a rousing highlight. Badenhorst and Lossing's virtuosic variations impart rich dynamics to the set; the former's sinuous ruminations on "Bohemia" and the latter's dulcet filigrees throughout "Cantus Planus" convey a full spectrum of harmonic invention.

Drawing on his conservatory training and fondness for classical music, Blaser continues to find contemporary parallels in compositions written centuries ago on A Mirror to Machaut. His bold arrangements juxtapose avant-garde concepts with ancient traditions, revealing a sophisticated approach that is both visionary and timeless.

Track Listing: Hymn; Douce dame jolie; Saltarello; Dame, se vous m estes lointeinne; Color; Cantus Planus; De fortune me doiy pleindre et loer; Bohemia; Linea; Introit; Complainte: Tels rit au main qui au soir pleure.

Personnel: Samuel Blaser: trombone; Joachim Badenhorst: tenor saxophone, bass clarinet, clarinet; Russ Lossing: piano, Rhodes, Wurlitzer; Drew Gress: double bass; Gerry Hemingway: drums, percussion.

Year Released: 2013 | Record Label: Songlines Recordings | Style: Modern Jazz


Related Video

Shop

More Articles

Read Groove Dreams CD/LP/Track Review Groove Dreams
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: May 23, 2017
Read Kami Fusen CD/LP/Track Review Kami Fusen
by Glenn Astarita
Published: May 23, 2017
Read Two CD/LP/Track Review Two
by Joe Gatto
Published: May 23, 2017
Read Galaxies Like Grains Of Sand CD/LP/Track Review Galaxies Like Grains Of Sand
by Roger Farbey
Published: May 23, 2017
Read Nightfall CD/LP/Track Review Nightfall
by John Kelman
Published: May 22, 2017
Read Pekka CD/LP/Track Review Pekka
by Roger Farbey
Published: May 22, 2017
Read "In Tokyo, Japan" CD/LP/Track Review In Tokyo, Japan
by Jack Bowers
Published: June 16, 2016
Read "The Big Shake-Up" CD/LP/Track Review The Big Shake-Up
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 21, 2016
Read "Quartet Plus, Volume 2" CD/LP/Track Review Quartet Plus, Volume 2
by Jack Bowers
Published: May 21, 2017
Read "Moons" CD/LP/Track Review Moons
by Dave Wayne
Published: July 27, 2016
Read "Reflections" CD/LP/Track Review Reflections
by Mark Sullivan
Published: March 25, 2017
Read "Soundscapes" CD/LP/Track Review Soundscapes
by Jim Olin
Published: July 25, 2016
comments powered by Disqus

Why wait?

Support All About Jazz and we'll deliver exclusive content, hide ads, hide slide-outs, and provide read access to our future articles.

Buy it!