The press kit discloses a wealth of thought-provoking information behind bassist, composer, Henning Sievert's motivation for this Double Quartet release. In sum, these compositions reflect the output of his deep dive into 600 years of the Bavarian Irsee Monastery and his discovery of a mass created in 1614, namely for the Abbey's festival of St. Benedict. But no matter how you spin it, this is a progressive jazz outing and at the time of this writing the record label has not yet posted the information on its website. I'm assuming that some degree of the musical technicalities, regarding the use of dividing scales and leitmotifs will generate additional interest.
Sievert employs an impressive international crew for this studio date, including American drummer, composer and widely acclaimed solo artist John Hollenbeck and fellow countryman, saxophonist Loren Stillman. The octet also subdivides into a duo and quartet format on select tracks. Sievert molds a few unorthodox sectors with the modern jazz vernacular but numerous works offer glistening straightforward arrangements with quite a bit of pizzazz. Pianist Florian Weber's fluent phrasings serve as a catalyst as tubaist Francoise Thuillier often rides above the leader's sturdy lines along with contrapuntal musings and a thrusting delivery.
The Double Quartet's largely up-tempo gait instills a ray of sunshine. The band often expands and converges amid multi-tiered horns parts, complete with strong doses of melodic themes and odd-metered unison choruses, spanning post- bop and other jazz vernaculars. In addition, Hollenbeck and drummer Jochen Rueckert are in synch throughout via some tradeoffs and soloing spots. But Sievert also injects five miniature interludes into the program, firmly rooted in avant-garde expressionism.
" Hexa Circle" incorporates an underlying mass canon steered by Weber who bridges classical overtones with lush jazz phrasings atop Sievert's pulsating notes, leading to a touch of Latin jazz, which is a component that appears within various movements on several pieces. On the other hand, "Hidden Hexa" is a swarming and rather hectic overture similar to "Fasoldo," which is erected on a fast and furious foundation, teeming with colorful contrasts that segues into a lighthearted theme towards closeout. Needless to state, this is a comprehensive production that comes at you with the impetus of a cinematic action thriller, framed on alternating plots and unanticipated deviations.