All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

6

Reijseger / Harmen Fraanje / Mola Sylla: Down Deep

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
As one of its first signings, Ernst Reijseger has amassed a sizable discography with Winter & Winter. Werner Herzog—with whom Reijseger has also shared a lengthy relationship, scoring seven of the German film director's films since 2000's Ajax: Hark the Herald Angels Sing—has aptly described the Dutch cellist as capable of anything, furthermore suggesting that he could "play the American Civil war on his cello." Whether or not that's true remains to be seen, but clearly Herzog sees Reijseger as an artist capable of creating music that both augments and enhances the narratives of his films while, at the same time, standing alone as distinct and separate entities unto themselves.

Reijseger has also shared a lengthy partnership with Senegalese-born/Amsterdam-based Mola Sylla, a percussionist and vocalist whose combination of innocence and sophistication has graced nearly half a dozen of the cellist's recordings, including Down Deep. Emerging, in just a few short years, as one of The Netherlands' most noteworthy young pianists—through his own projects and trumpeter Eric Vloeimans' Fugimundi trio—Harmen Fraanje is also featured. It was the pianist who, in fact, approached Reijseger and Sylla six years ago and, while they've continued to work together ever since, Down Deep is their first recording strictly as a trio, and first non-film score, following Reijseger's 2011 soundtrack for Herzog's Cave of Forgotten Dreams.

Splitting the writing duties almost equally—three from Reijseger, two each from Sylla and Fraanje, plus two externally sourced pieces—Deep Down opens with the cellist's melancholic "Elena," one of seven tracks to also feature Sylla's Senegalese lyrics. Just as it was during the trio's showcase set at the 2012 Dutch Jazz & World Meeting, Sylla seems, at times, to be more about spoken word, elsewhere singing wordlessly and, in yet other instances, soaring with a primal kind of primitivism similar yet different to Norwegian trumpeter Per Jorgensen's work in keyboardist Jon Balke's Magnetic North Orchestra. Fraanje, over Reijseger's spare accompaniment, both integrates with the trio's voice and solos with a combination of gentle sensitivity, grander drama and unfettered freedom.

And that's only one tune. Sylla's xalam (a traditional West African stringed instrument) drives his own folkloric "M'br," but while Fraanje and Reijseger respect its humbler origins, they also take it to places Sylla might never have imagined as the pianist's plays over the compelling combination of Sylla's strumming and Reijseger's pizzicato. Sylla's kongoma—resembling a m'bira (thumb piano), but placed on a surface also capable of hand-driven percussion, provides the pulse for Fraanje's darker "Shaped by the Tide," with Reijseger alternating between near-bass range pizzicato and arco support for Fraanje on his five-string cello, and his own soaring, lyrical improvisations.

Deceptive in its blend of folkloric naiveté, structural sophistication and improvisational élan, Deep Down truly sounds like no other recording, as romantic classicism intersects with African culture and jazz-centric improvisation. Dynamic and dramatic, while almost—almost always gentle and elegant, it's the long overdue debut from an impressive trio that has fashioned its own language, one that may not be immediately understood, but still, one that is absolutely and unequivocally felt.

Track Listing: Elena; M'br; Amerigo; Shaped by the Tide; Hemisacraal; e Lucevan le Stelle; Ana; Down Deep; Her Eyes.

Personnel: Ernst Reijseger: violoncello, voice; Harmen Fraanje: piano; Mola Sylla: vocals, m'bira, xalam, kongoma.

Title: Down Deep | Year Released: 2013 | Record Label: Winter & Winter

Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

Live Reviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Count Till Zen

Count Till Zen

Winter & Winter
2015

buy
Down Deep

Down Deep

Winter & Winter
2013

buy
Tell Me Everything

Tell Me Everything

Winter & Winter
2010

buy
 

Do You Still

Winter & Winter
2008

buy

Related Articles

Read Murals CD/LP/Track Review
Murals
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: May 20, 2018
Read Cosmic Language CD/LP/Track Review
Cosmic Language
by Chris May
Published: May 20, 2018
Read More Songs About Error And Shame CD/LP/Track Review
More Songs About Error And Shame
by Friedrich Kunzmann
Published: May 20, 2018
Read Jubilation! Celebrating Cannonball Adderley CD/LP/Track Review
Jubilation! Celebrating Cannonball Adderley
by Glenn Astarita
Published: May 20, 2018
Read Earth CD/LP/Track Review
Earth
by Chris May
Published: May 20, 2018
Read Vegir CD/LP/Track Review
Vegir
by Mark Sullivan
Published: May 19, 2018
Read "Passin' Thru" CD/LP/Track Review Passin' Thru
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: July 12, 2017
Read "Chimeric Stoned Horn" CD/LP/Track Review Chimeric Stoned Horn
by Karl Ackermann
Published: September 3, 2017
Read "Live" CD/LP/Track Review Live
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: April 21, 2018
Read "Promise!" CD/LP/Track Review Promise!
by Don Phipps
Published: April 6, 2018
Read "Open Borders" CD/LP/Track Review Open Borders
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: November 1, 2017
Read "Tone Twister" CD/LP/Track Review Tone Twister
by Geannine Reid
Published: December 19, 2017