All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

331

Simon Spang-Hanssen: Ear Witness

By

Sign in to view read count
Ear Witness—whose members are from Denmark, Hungary, Mauritius, and Cameroon—is not exactly your average jazz quartet. To be a bit more precise, let's call this music what it is: funky fusion. Ear Witness is one of Danish saxophonist Simon Spang-Hanssen's many projects, and he wrote eight of its pieces (the ninth is a group composition). Each song has a catchy theme, which is one of Spang-Hanssen's trademarks. Sometimes they're almost too catchy for me, since they have a tendency to get stuck in my ears and I have problems getting rid of them. Which means the next time I play the record, the themes seem almost too familiar. But then it's time to focus on the individual players and check out what they're really doing, which will keep me busy for quite a while.

Four strong musical personalities make up this group, and each one has a very characteristic playing style. The one who sticks out more than the others is Hungarian keyboardist Emil Spányi, who uses synthesizer sounds that don't try to imitate other instruments, but just sound like a real synth, with its roots in the fusion from the late '70s and early '80s. But this guy is exceptional, quite individualistic. We rarely hear this kind of freaky synth playing today, but we didn't hear it quite like this back then either, as far as I can remember. And not in a band like this, playing this kind of compositions.

Just like Spányi, Spang-Hanssen has an extraordinary melodic sense, and the two instruments intertwine nicely while the bass and drums play high-class funk. On another one of his current releases, the more jazzy Noctiflore, he plays only tenor, but on Ear Witness it's alto and soprano all the way through. Nice tonality, adding unexpected twists and turns to his lines.

Linley Marthe is Joe Zawinul's latest bassist; he is, just like all of his predecessors, the current "bassist of the bassists, with a funky style, distinctly punchy and smoothly flowing at the same time. His presence adds power to each moment on the recording, with his round, never metallic, notes playing their own symphony that's worth its own complete round of listening.

Behind the drums we find another wizard, Cameroonian Felix Sabal-Lecco, who has a track record with Manu Dibango, Youssou N'Dour, Peter Gabriel, and many others. His impressive and exciting drumming all the way through reveals many interesting ways of playing funk; he's more polyrhythmic than most drummers, due to his roots in the rich musical traditions of Cameroon, which must also be one factor behind the talent of guys like drummer Brice Wassy and ex-Zawinulers Richard Bona and Etienne Mbappé. So this kind of playing is worth listening to closely; it's really Funk Beyond The Call Of Duty...

Visit Simon Spang-Hanssen on the web.


Track Listing: Caf

Personnel: Simon Spang-Hanssen: alto & soprano saxophones; Emil Sp

Title: Ear Witness | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Music Mecca

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Painting Riddles On The Wall

Painting Riddles On The Wall

Simon Spang-Hanssen
Back To Earth

Doors

Doors

Simon Spang-Hanssen
Luna Moon

Take Five With...
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
midnight again

midnight again

Spangster Records - Alisio Music
2018

buy
Caminho Da Lua

Caminho Da Lua

Spangster Records- Alisio Music
2017

buy
Back To Earth

Back To Earth

Alisio Music
2016

buy
Simon Spang Band

Simon Spang Band...

Alisio Music
2015

buy
Simon Spang-Hanssen Trio

Simon Spang-Hanssen...

Spangster Records/Alisio Music
2013

buy
Citizen Song

Citizen Song

Alisio Music
2012

buy

Related Articles

Read Jazz Tango CD/LP/Track Review
Jazz Tango
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: June 18, 2018
Read The Berlin Concert CD/LP/Track Review
The Berlin Concert
by Troy Dostert
Published: June 18, 2018
Read IMA IMA CD/LP/Track Review
IMA IMA
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: June 18, 2018
Read Breathe CD/LP/Track Review
Breathe
by Geannine Reid
Published: June 18, 2018
Read Good Music CD/LP/Track Review
Good Music
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: June 18, 2018
Read Stillness & Sirens CD/LP/Track Review
Stillness & Sirens
by Karl Ackermann
Published: June 17, 2018
Read "Timeline" CD/LP/Track Review Timeline
by Dr. Judith Schlesinger
Published: April 5, 2018
Read "Invisible Touch At Taktlos Zurich" CD/LP/Track Review Invisible Touch At Taktlos Zurich
by John Sharpe
Published: May 26, 2018
Read "Chants To The Sea - The Corium project" CD/LP/Track Review Chants To The Sea - The Corium project
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: January 30, 2018
Read "Trip" CD/LP/Track Review Trip
by James Nadal
Published: August 1, 2017
Read "Music For Empty Halls" CD/LP/Track Review Music For Empty Halls
by Mark Corroto
Published: April 17, 2018
Read "Leon" CD/LP/Track Review Leon
by Glenn Astarita
Published: July 11, 2017