Like a playground for improvisation, Hungarian drummer Ferenc Nemeth's newest recording abounds with joy and, in accord with the album title, a strong sense of Freedom. Not only does Freedom continue the bassless concept of his 2012 release Triumph (Dreamers Collective), but the New York-based percussionist allows himself to tap his intuition, often leading to simpler structures and minimal harmonic progressions. It is in such melodically generous frames that Nemethaccompanied by his compatriot Tzumo Arpad on keys and Gregory Tardy on saxcomes alive to deliver a festive set of jams.
A new addition to his studio workthough an experimentation that Nemeth has tried and tested live in the past several songs on the album feature him vocalizing melodies and harmonies via vocoder effect. Though a somewhat whimsical gadget, a couple of the tunes profit from the fuller sonic tapestry. In the world music-influenced takes, namely the title track and "Marrakech" especially, the narrative quality of the vocals bear fruit.
Slightly laid-back and melancholic cadences with big choruses bring catchy hooks to the table and hold together a string of more exotic tracks. "The Peacock" and "Floating" are intended as platforms for the saxophone to shine in, while "Farmboy" exudes Fusion-vibes recalling Nemeths work with Attila László on their collaborative effort Bridges Of Souls (Dreamers Collective 2014). Nemeth's remarkably tight drum work is the one constant that isn't ever sonically altered. And even though he performs each measure in a slightly modified way, his beats and shuffles are airtight, the driving force behind the interplay. A number of short interludes, referred to as "Drumterludes" on the album, give him short breaks in which to spread out.
Of course, it's hard to talk about the Hungarian drummer without once mentioning his Gilfema band mates Massimo Biolcati and Lionel Loueke. The former of which has released his sophomore effort Incontre (Sounderscore 2020) almost coincidingly with this album.
"Bluefrica" is representative of that trio's work. Here, Nemeth is at his most percussive while his trademark hi-hat 8ths consistently guide the track throughout. Arpad, who's elegant piano work is a highlight on the smooth jazz number "Get Up," even switches to an effect on the synthesizer that channels the octave-manipulated guitar sound for which Lionel Loueke has become known. Hurriedly paced "Soccer Game" works in a similarly groovy vein.
Some of the pure joy and excitement that Nemeth exudes live comes through on Freedom, and that was surely the goal. Packed with juicy beats, tasty sax lines and effortless keys, this versatile set is a fun ride.
Triumph 2; Drumterlude 1; The Peacock; Drumterlude 2; Farmboy; Drumterlude 3; Floating; Marrakech;
Freedom;The Fugitive; Drumterlude 4; Dare To Dream; Get Up; Drumterlude 5; Soccer Game; Epilogue.
All About Jazz has been a pillar of jazz since 1995, championing it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.
WE NEED YOUR HELP
To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to vigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.