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Quinsin Nachoff: Flux

Mark Corroto By

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Listening to Flux by saxophonist Quinsin Nachoff, it's easy to see in your mind's eye the DNA double helix beautifully spinning in the dark space of the human cell. That's because Nachoff composes tight, complex chamber pieces, seemingly delicate in structure, but able to withstand the attack of the jazz infantry.

Nachoff's training and experience writing for orchestras, chamber ensembles, plus new music, brings a depth to his jazz bona fides. Plus, working with heavyweights like Ralph Alessi, Jonathan Finlayson, Tim Hagans, Jim Black, and Kenny Wheeler has solidified his jazz credentials.

What is particularly interesting here is that the music for Flux, except for maybe the piece "Tilted" could, okay should, also be recorded by a string quartet. The music is intricately woven like chamber music, but disseminated by two saxophones, piano, and drums. Nachoff plays tenor accompanied by David Binney's alto saxophone, the piano seat is held by Matt Mitchell (Tim Berne, Dave Douglas, Rudresh Mahanthappa), and the legendary Downtown drummer Kenny Wollesen. With a quartet of jazz musicians, the DNA of Nachoff's compositions undergo a kind of genetic recombination. The intricate structures remain intact, but an improviser's mutation allows for the pieces to evolve. Wollesen opens "Tightrope" with whirling hoses, before the piano signals a march of saxophones that bisect the composition to allow Mitchell's solo. The quartet's self-command is engaged in a battle with each individual player's sense of freedom, making for that agitation that marks all great music.

Switching to electric piano, Mitchell signals a smoothing out of sounds. The piece softens with both saxophonists running in parallel lines and Wollesen keeping an imperturbable pulse. That is until the music slips into, and I have to say out of nowhere, a reggae beat. At first listen, the complexity crowds the ear. With subsequent spins Nachoff's vision—let's say his playfulness—slips through.

Track Listing: Tightrope; Complimentary Opposites; Mind's Ear I; Mind's Ear II; Astral Echo Poem; Titled.

Personnel: David Binney: alto saxophone; Quinsin Nachoff: tenor saxophone; Matt Mitchell: piano; Fender Rhodes; Wurlitzer, Moog Rogue; organ; Kenny Wollensen: drums, tubular bells; handcrafted percussion.

Title: Flux | Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: Mythology Records

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