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Christof Irniger Trio: Gowanus Canal

Glenn Astarita By

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The trio recorded this studio date in nascent saxophonist Christoph Irniger's (Pilgrim and Cowboys from Hell, NoReduce) hometown of Zurich, Switzerland. However, the band was formed in New York as the respective artists are true jazz warriors, aligning their wares with various groups and sessions. Israeli drummer Ziv Ravitz and Los Angeles-based bassist Raffaele Bossard help elevate this outing into an atypical sphere by injecting unanticipated surprises that also equates to a highly democratic approach to the jazz trio concept.

Disparate tonalities and a largely, measured gait loom as the trio's hallmark. Irniger often takes his time from a thematic development standpoint and focuses on delivering animated storylines. With moody passages, splintered progressions and subtle hues, the musicians do render some unexpected breakouts. For example, Ravitz unleashes unwieldy patterns during the opener "Gowanus Canal," where the band alternates fractured flows with moments of temperance and a few false endings. Indeed, it's a cunning piece; however, they bump it up on "Airplane Mode" via a crisp and oscillating sequence of outbreaks, enlivened by shifting dynamics. Moreover, Irniger's soft sax lines transform into several choruses of fluidly exercised runs within the scope of a rather modest primary melody.

The artists switch between contemplative plot formation and linear trajectories along with their propensity for generating pliant rhythmic episodes. The music breathes as either Irniger or Bossard's compositions are chock full of sentiment and warmth amid a surprising amount of stark dissimilarities. They can be poignant or intertwine buoyancy into the schema. For example, "Black Pearl" is a piece that starts with rumbling drums but diminishes into a near whisper during the bridge, paralleling notions of lament, yet the rhythm section picks up the pieces and launch an off-kilter Afro-Cuban vamp leading to the finale. Nonetheless, the program is a study in transversely opposed contrasts, supplementing a set built on dense compositional outlines, marked by the musicians' persuasive interactions and razor-sharp focus. There's a lot going on under the covers, to say the least.

Track Listing: Gowanus Canal; Airplane Mode; Schattenspiel; Hello Africa (for Luca); Black Pearl; Kanon; Burnout; The Slope (Part 1); M.

Personnel: Christoph Irniger: tenor saxophone, bass clarinet; Raffaele Bossard: bass; Ziv Ravitz: drums.

Title: Gowanus Canal | Year Released: 2013 | Record Label: Intakt Records


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