Clarity, angularity, consistency are the most distinguishing characteristics of the album Eleven, created by saxophonist Igor Lumpert & Innertextures. M-Base, Mahler and Mingus are keywords, too. Eleven is jagged music with clear thematic threads, music that happens somewhere in between stasis and straightforward movement. Lumpert's music is based on a strong procedural structure that allows growth and the absorption of a variety of influences. Six musicians have left their traces in the strongly collective way of performing this music, namely the saxophonists Igor Lumpert and Greg Ward, trumpeter Jonathan Finlayson, bass clarinetist John Ellis, bassist Chris Tordini and drummer Kenny Grohowski.
The opening piece, "13th of August," has Mahlerian dimensions leaving traces in a M-Base inflected context with driving bass figures. "XmD" is a stunning alternating of bouncy hounding and thematic flow. It would be the right music for a complex acrobatic show or a wonderful highlighting accompaniment for a breath-taking juggling act.
"Poseidon" is the most outstanding piece. Its initial stentorian fanfare, a highly intricate interchange of voices, leads again into a brilliant and highly integrated combination of zigzagging and flowing melody. The way figures are repeated here, working like whirling waves, is highly refreshing and stimulating. Soloing on sax and trumpet is not a put-on showcasing. Firmly anchored by and interlaced with the rhythm section, it rather goes deep into the piece's core. No voice can escape the ever regenerating, shifting figures.
"Paha," light-footed but as elastic as the rest, is an almost lyrical piece with a wonderful short bass-solo. "Eleven" immediately recalls Little Richard's "Long Tall Sally"as a kind of fractured echo of it. It's not only the rhythmical pointedness but also the strong way of employing the horns according to that very tradition. Chris Tordini's playing is just jaw dropping in this piece as well as in all the other pieces. "Brela" is the slowest and darkest piece of the album especially due to the adding of John Ellis' bass clarinet. For me it triggered an association with sea turtles, but it could as well be inspired by the beauty of the Croatian coastal region of Brela or by something that has happened there.
Eleven is a regenerative, joyful work of complex music. Its bracing and encouraging power could help to face our world's chaos, with its juxtaposition of misery and joy.
13th of August; XmD; Poseidon; Paha; Eleven; Brela.
Igor Lumpert: tenor saxophone; Greg Ward: alto saxophone; Jonathan Finlayson: trumpet; John Ellis: bass clarinet; Chris Tordini: bass; Kenny Grohowski: drums.
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