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Luzia von Wyl Ensemble: Frost

Glenn Astarita By

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The age-old debate, regarding the pros and cons of melding classical music with other genres will live on. And of course, the oil and water analogies will be discussed as many hybrid encounters may seem contrived, evidenced by hard-rock guitar solos wailing above syrupy strings arrangements or abstract scenarios where free-jazz soloists merge chamber music and so on. But classically trained Swiss pianist, composer Luzia von Wyl resides on a higher plane with this masterful program, combining hornists, strings and a rhythm section. These rather striking works comprise progressive jazz stylizations, solid rock pulses and minimalism, proffering magnetic attributes that cohesively align with her contemporary classical brainstorming and strategically visualized arrangements.

Von Wyl, whether intentional or not, even fuses some tricky Frank Zappa-type blitzes into the production via marimba performer Raphael Christen's fluently exercised unison jaunts with the ensemble. Yet all of these pieces contain memorable hooks and plots. Engineered on swirling cadenzas, jazzy horns, budding buildups and soaring solo spots, the leader seamlessly bridges a crossover gala with concisely integrated symphonic overtures. The pianist's vivid imagination shines throughout an amalgamation of sparkling choruses and intermittent breakouts, executed within sub-groups and often spawning great depth amid layered backdrops.

Works such as "Spark" and "Rush" are sculpted with von Wyl's spiraling single note leads, bluesy jazz phrasings, ringing harmonics, firm rock beats, melodic ostinato vamps and the hornists' bristling staccato lines. Even during the mellower moments shaded with melodic overtones, the ensemble abides by a deterministic forward-looking disposition. And the final track "Quints," is kicked off with the pianist's melancholic motif, leading to a gorgeous and hummable strings-based theme, counterbalanced with dips and spikes and a few creaky off-kilter injections. But they methodically raise the pitch and rebuild the principle storyline, culminating in a very special program, boasting a surfeit of distinguishing factors, embedded within Wyl's fascinating compositions and alluring cross-genre arrangements.

Track Listing: Tick-Tock; Frost; Joke; Wind; Jingle; Spark; Rush; Overlap; Kalimba; Quints.

Personnel: Luzia von Wyl: piano; Amin Mokdad: flute; Nicola Katz: clarinet; Lukas Roos: bass clarinet; Maurus Conte: bassoon; Simon Heggendorn: violin; Jonas Iten: violincello; Andre Pousaz: bass; Raphael Christen: marimba; Rico Baumann: drums.

Title: Frost | Year Released: 2015 | Record Label: Hatology

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