All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

2

Max Zenger: Chapter 2

Troy Dostert By

Sign in to view read count
Finnish saxophonist/bass clarinetist Max Zenger's quartet, the Maxxxtet, shows on its sophomore release that there's a lot of room in modern jazz for an approach that puts harmony, intricate concepts and subtle rhythmic nuances ahead of passionate intensity and technical brilliance. This is not to say that the group lacks chops or ambition—but that these traits find their outlet in a less demonstrative delivery. The result is seven well-constructed compositions that unfold through unhurried, careful development: it's music that doesn't have to hit you over the head to make its point, and for that reason it is all the more inviting.

The group's first release, Chapter 1, was in some respects a more exuberant record, with a fair bit of bounce and verve. In contrast, Chapter 2's somewhat more restrained, pensive vibe takes a bit longer to ingratiate itself, but once it does so the music has real staying power. Often the tunes emerge through indirection, with composed and improvised sections both playing a role. The opener, "Varanus Priscus," is a good example of the group's effective use of composed phrases, both in harmony and unison, to create a trajectory; even though the piece generally stays at a simmer, never reaching full boil, there's genuine excitement nevertheless, due in large part to the dexterous drumwork of Joonas Leppänen, whose loose- limbed rhythmic sensibility, often punctuated with well-placed interjections, gives the piece a lot of its momentum and spurs some terrific solos from Zenger and trumpeter Tomi Nikku.

The album possesses a strong lyrical core, so the horns are pivotal; but so too is the bass of Teemu Åkerblom, which has its own graceful, supple aspects, heard to fine effect on "Vortex," where he gets to help define the melodic contours of the piece. And both Zenger and Nikku have deep emotional range, as the tenderness they bring to tracks like "Year of the Rooster" and "Z.E.N." delineates their softer edges. But the music never falls into sentimentality, as even on these ruminative pieces the group still makes room for some edgy improvisation: witness the opportunity for free-flowing dialogue that Nikku and Zenger deliver during the last couple minutes of "Rooster" as a case in point. Although Zenger plays alto sax on most of the cuts, when he does switch over to bass clarinet it adds another dimension to the music: the lower range of the instrument provides a deep- hued sonority to tracks like "Vortex" and "Tragikomik," in addition to creating another avenue for the two-horn harmonies in which Zenger delights.

At around 45 minutes the album doesn't feel overly long, but there's definitely a lot of music here, a testament to Zenger's attention to craft and each piece's skillful blend of composed and improvised segments. We'll be hearing more from Zenger, and this is a promising entry in his burgeoning catalog.

Track Listing: Varanus Priscus; Year of the Rooster; Vortex; Tresteg; Tragikomik; Pristine; Z.E.N.

Personnel: Max Zenger: alto saxophone, bass clarinet; Tomi Nikku: trumpet; Teemu Åkerblom: bass; Joonas Leppänen: drums.

Title: Chapter 2 | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Eclipse Music

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Chapter 2

Chapter 2

Eclipse Music
2017

buy

Related Articles

Read Uplift The People CD/LP/Track Review
Uplift The People
by John Sharpe
Published: August 21, 2018
Read A New Shade Of Blue CD/LP/Track Review
A New Shade Of Blue
by Chris May
Published: August 21, 2018
Read Rabbits on the Run CD/LP/Track Review
Rabbits on the Run
by Glenn Astarita
Published: August 21, 2018
Read Imaginary Numbers CD/LP/Track Review
Imaginary Numbers
by John Sharpe
Published: August 21, 2018
Read Point Blank CD/LP/Track Review
Point Blank
by Chris May
Published: August 20, 2018
Read Tell Me The Truth CD/LP/Track Review
Tell Me The Truth
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: August 20, 2018
Read "After The Fall" CD/LP/Track Review After The Fall
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 13, 2018
Read "After Bach" CD/LP/Track Review After Bach
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: March 2, 2018
Read "Making Other Arrangements" CD/LP/Track Review Making Other Arrangements
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: April 19, 2018
Read "We're All Gonna Die" CD/LP/Track Review We're All Gonna Die
by Doug Collette
Published: October 1, 2017
Read "Don't Look Down" CD/LP/Track Review Don't Look Down
by Paul Rauch
Published: March 1, 2018
Read "Gonimoblast Live" CD/LP/Track Review Gonimoblast Live
by Mark Sullivan
Published: August 25, 2017