Arbenz, Mehari, Veras: Conversation #1: Condensed

Kyle Simpler By

Sign in to view read count
Arbenz, Mehari, Veras: Conversation #1: Condensed
One of the most appealing aspects in jazz is the interplay among musicians in a group. There is usually a continuous musical conversation occurring during any given session, which adds an element of spontaneity. Swiss drummer Florian Arbenz is concentrating on this concept of conversation in his upcoming releases, beginning with Conversation #1: Condensed.

Arbenz has established himself as one of the foremost drummers in Europe. He has recorded and performed with numerous artists during his career, including Kirk Lightsey, Bennie Maupin and Dave Liebman. He also worked for years as part of the jazz trio VEIN. Along with his career in jazz, Arbenz has been involved with several classical projects. Conversation #1: Condensed is the beginning of a 12-album project, which will feature completely different musicians for each recording. For this album, Arbenz is joined by trumpeter Hermon Mehari and guitarist Nelson Veras. While the combination of drums, guitar and trumpet might seem like an unusual combination, the players have a rapport that creates some impressive musical interactions.

The music included features a range of different styles ranging from avant-garde to straight ahead. The overall sound of the music, which was influenced by players like Paul Motian and Don Cherry, consists of mostly original compositions. There are, however, covers of Antonio Carlos Jobim's "Olha Maria," Ornette Coleman's "Race Face," and Eddie Harris' "Freedom Jazz Dance."

The keyword for this album is "condensed," but condensed shouldn't be confused with limited. There are plenty of excellent performances, but there is also a sense of space and control. As Miles Davis once noted, "it's not the notes you play that matter; it's the notes you don't play," and there is a musical depth here that goes beyond what's written on the sheet music. As Arbenz points out in the liner notes, "condensed musical thoughts only make sense if the original thoughts are exciting and interesting enough to be condensed."

As the title suggests, the concept of conversation is important as well. The songs feature all three players engaging in a musical conversation. This is probably best exemplified with the song "Let's Try This Again." The song starts off with the three instruments sounding like people in a group talking at the same time. As the song progresses, though, the independent voices come together in a collaborative conversation.

Many of the songs on Conversation #1: Condensed have a sound somewhat similar to classic ECM recordings. There is a cerebral quality to the music that is dreamlike in places and upbeat in others. The sound here, however, is more modern than experimental. This is an accessible album that showcases the three musicians working together seamlessly.

Arbenz is a talented and imaginative musician who is just taking the first step in an ambitious musical journey with Conversation #1: Condensed. If this is an indication of things to come, the rest of the series should definitely be conversations worth having.

Track Listing

Boarding The Beat; Let's Try Again; Groove A; Olha Maria; In Medias Res; Vibing With Mr. Feldman; Race Face: Dedicated To The Quintessence; Circle; Freedom Jazz Dance.


Florian Arbenz: drums; Nelson Veras: guitar; Hermon Mehari: trumpet.

Album information

Title: Conversation #1: Condensed | Year Released: 2021 | Record Label: Hammer Recordings

Post a comment about this album



Shop Amazon


Live in Hawaii
Doug MacDonald
Lost in a Dream
Kristin Callahan
The Painter
Tobias Meinhart
Monaco, Meurkens, Hoyson, Lucas
J. Peter Schwalm / Markus Reuter
Cool With That
East Axis


All About Jazz needs your support

All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded albums and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, limited reopenings and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary step that will help musicians and venues now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the sticky footer ad). Thank you!

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.