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Noertker's Moxie: druidh penumbrae

Glenn Astarita By

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With his 9th album for San Francisco Bay Area-based Edgetone Records, bassist, composer Bill Noertker's Moxie ensemble is captured live during performances between 2011-2015. As a composer, he derives influence from famous visual artists, architects, poets and sculptors. Thus, his compositional impetus contains grounded jazz elements, yet his works feature lyrical mosaics of sound amid geometrical unison flows, whimsical overtones and a storytelling approach.

Moxie consists of alternating personnel, spanning the various ensemble configurations of these live performances. However, one of the main staples of this diverse track mix pertains to the leader's compositional savvy, lyrically charged theme-building creations and the inventive exchanges among the soloists. The musicians explore bop, loose groove panoramas, numerous deconstruction efforts and sprightly call/response type sub-plots. And they occasionally aim for the stratosphere with intense, free-form flights of fancy.

"Acrobat's Smile (Subrisio Saltat) commences with a mild-mannered jazz waltz motif, equating to jazz-centric swansong sans vocals, but saxophonists Annelise Zamula, Jim Peterson and John Vaughn whip matters into a popping and winding free jazz opus, tinted by Noertker's sullen arco lines. But "La Chenille," paints a contrasting vista due to a mantra-like vibe led by Zamula's cyclical flute passages and drummer Dax Compise's gently rolling toms passages, executed with mallets.

The variable mix continues with an upbeat chamber jazz tome, framed by oboist Amber Lamprecht's dreamy passages. Whereas "Matilda," is designed with a pulsating cadence and pianist Brett Carson's swarming low register chords, where he slams the pedals to the floor and mimics Zamula's hearty lines atop an entrancing hook. The plot takes another twist on the final track "Song for CH," commencing as a low-key and pensive motif led by the bassist's prominent undercurrent, leading to a slow buildup, but swaying towards the microtonal realm followed by hearty free style sax dialogues.

Noertker is an idea-man who spins a crafty tale or two on a per-track basis. At times gleefully off-centered, the musicians create a comprehensive jazz-framed soundstage, occasionally underscored with theatrical sensibilities. Each piece imparts a distinct message, coinciding with Noertker's multiple sources of inspiration.

Track Listing: Boxcars; Acrobat’s Smile (Subrisio Saltat); Hopscotch 34; La Cheniile; Puppeteer; The Green Metallic Silk, Those Endless Ribbons; Matilda; Blue Moose Over Miami; Before a Single Pain (Has got Within Range of Your Ever-Galloping Heart); dewey Dell; Song for CH.

Personnel: Annelise Zamula: alto saxophone (1. 3, 7, 10, 11), tenor saxophone (2, 6, 8, 9) and flute (4, 5, 9); Bill Noertker: contrabass; Joshua Marshall: tenor saxophone (9, 10, 11); Jim Peterson:- alto saxophone (2) and flute (4); John Vaughn: baritone sax (2, 4); Amber Lamprecht: oboe (6); Theo Padouvas: cornet (3); Eli Wallace: piano (1, 5); Brett Carson: piano (7, 9); Jason Levis (3, 6, 7): drums; Dax Compise: drums (1, 2, 4, 8, 11); Jordan Glenn: drums (5, 9, 10).

Title: druidh penumbrae | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Edgetone Records

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