Since 1986 German saxophonist Norbert Stein has issued fifteen albums under his emblematic Pata Music moniker, which is based on Frenchman Alfred Jarry's ideologies pertaining to physics and unreal logic, among other factors. In turn, Stein's compositional prowess includes what he refers to as "composed spheres," enacted by the soloists' options to rearrange various movements of a given piece. And while Stein is not widely known in the USA, his muse and methodologies often signify a higher level of progressive-jazz, augmented by his well-defined compositional models.
On this 2008 release, Stein's quintet sports a little big band-like sound. With hard-edged horns choruses often engineered with the mindset of jagged or stilted circular patterns, this band's no nonsense mode of attack is irrefutably and progressive in nature amid sojourns into the freer realm. Stein is a superior technician who often drives the band via his jagged and soaring lines, yet flutist Michael Heupert occasionally tempers the blitzing undercurrents with airy phrasings over the top.
The program features African percussion motifs and interweaving horns parts, where the soloists embark on heated exchanges. But Stein's muse also generates a shroud of mystery, partly due to his manner of hinting at a given melody-line. On the title track "Direct Speech," the quintet dives into a fiery rampage within a fractured groove, accelerated by Christoph Haberer's pounding drum solo. Then on "Alice in der parallelen Welt (Alice in the Parallel World)," the artists execute a punchy swing vamp, awash with spatial metrics and free-bop motifs, firmed-up by Sebastian Gramss' booming bass lines.
It's been said before that Stein's artistry would loom as a wake-up call for the uninitiated jazz populous. More importantly, his musicality offers a mark of distinction, especially when considering the constant influx of post-bop and modern jazz albums flooding the market. Simply stated, it's rare to be treated to musicians who project a noticeable identity while offering gobs of excitement to parallel the overall listening experience. Direct Speech drives that point home in rather illustrious fashion.
Norbert Stein: tenor saxophone, composition; Michael Heupel: flutes; Matthias Muche:
trombone; Sebastian Gramss: double bass; Christoph Haberer: drums.