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Michael Lutzeier & Artbop: Gleichmut... Und Zwar Sofort!

Jack Bowers By

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Gleichmut... Und Zwar Sofort! doesn't translate well into English (or even German), says baritone saxophonist Michael Lutzeier. Fortunately for the listener, the music needs no interpreter. This is explicit post bop jazz, capably designed by Lutzeier's talented sextet and easily understood in any language.

Lutzeier wrote half of the album's ten selections, pianist Claus Raible two. The group also performs Benny Golson's "Evermore, Tadd Dameron's "Jahbero and Billy Strayhorn's "A Flower Is a Lovesome Thing (on which Lutzeier plays bass clarinet). There are at least three standards clearly embedded among the sharps and flats—"Jahbero ("All the Things You Are") and Lutzeier's "Gleichmut ("The Song Is You") and "Split Lift" ("Cherokee").

Everyone plays his part well, even though Raible has a habit of humming while soloing, especially at faster tempos, producing an irksome sound that resembles a bee searching for pollen. He redeems himself in part with the splendid compositions "Lunar Web and "Did Ya Hear What People Says. Bassist Thomas Stabenow is well-known, as is drummer Dejan Terzic, who leads one of Germany's blue-chip big bands, the Sunday Night Orchestra. Trumpeter Andrew McNaughton is an Australian.

In comparing Lutzeier's style to others, as I did in reviewing an earlier album, Music 4 Food, the names Bud Shank and Lars Gullin were mentioned, and two others should have been—Cecil Payne and Serge Chaloff: Payne for his deep roots in bop, Chaloff for his burnished sound, both for their unflagging propensity to swing. There are aspects of all those players in Lutzeier's style, scrupulously blended to shape his own voice. He's a good writer too; his five compositions (performed consecutively after "Evermore and "Lunar Web ) easily stand their ground against the others. Lutzeier plays alto sax (quite well) on the fast-moving "Split Lift. McNaughton and trombonist Johannes Herrlich are admirable soloists, as is Raible, when he isn't humming.

If there's a downside here, it lies in the tendency, also shown in a number of other recent albums, to accentuate the rhythm section while metaphorically consigning the horns to a nearby alcove from which they must labor to make themselves heard above piano, bass and drums. I have no name for the malady that is plaguing so many recording engineers, but do wish someone would find a cure.

Even so, one quickly becomes inured to the imbalance, and the music speaks loudly enough to neutralize any lingering unease. Listen to any of Lutzeier's persuasive solos and you'll see what I mean. This is exhilarating contemporary jazz superbly performed by six accomplished musicians. Definitely a keeper.


Track Listing: Evermore; Lunar Web; Verr

Personnel: Michael Lutzeier: baritone sax, alto sax, bass clarinet; Andrew McNaughton: trumpet; Johannes Herrlich: trombone; Claus Raible: piano; Thomas Stabenow: bass; Dejan Terzic: drums.

Title: Gleichmut... Und Zwar Sofort! | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Comusication Records

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