It was no one other than Benny Golson, who happened to be gigging in Siberia of all places, that turned young classical pianist Yaroslav Likhachev into a pure jazz enthusiast. Morphed him into a tenor saxophonist whose first outing, the craftily confident Crumbling, will have you pre-ordering it's inevitable follow-up.
And that's because Likhachev, along with the equally tenacious pianist Yannis Anft, teamed with bassist Conrad Noll's existential investigations of indigo and boundary, and drummer Moritz Baranczyk's ghost beats and whispers, frame the saxophonist's eight spacious compositions as all inclusive conversations. Between players. Between listeners. Between time and space. "November Tune" reveals itself slowly at first, before Likhachev opens up the floodgates with a cutting, pronounced savvy that is simultaneously well thought through yet improvisatory in nature and sentiment. Anft's dark left hand pounds "The Fifth Mode" to life and away you go, caught on the choppy groove as Likhachev sets his blue note wailing up against Baranczyk's particularly agile barrage.
Crumbling's nine minute title tune offering is where the band throws it all at you: its unerring sense of risk and reward. Its penchant for tension tension and release. Its physicality and ephemera. Six minutes in and the jam becomes a laboratory for Noll's ambient aestheticssquealing, creaking, pleading; Anft sneaks in and under with a restive, wandering figure that preludes a full on crash with sax and drums. It's got a startling clarity as does the entire disc. Quieter, more introspective and controlled highlights include "Ballad for Eli," the sax midnight and mirrored "Sicilian Flower," (Noll and Baranczyk in classic trio mode) and the wistful closer, "Traceless Rails, Traceless Waters." Pay attention.
November Tune; The Fifth Mode; Crumbling; Ballad For Eli; He Must Go, And He Goes; Sicilian Flower;
U74; Traceless Rails, Traceless Waters.