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Christian Marien Quartett: How Long Is Now


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Christian Marien Quartett: How Long Is Now
Drummer Christian Marien represents the kind of omnivorous musical sensibility that is so valuable in an age in which conventional musical categories seem increasingly irrelevant. His undeniable reverence for the jazz tradition is evident through his work with I Am Three, in which he has teamed with saxophonist Silke Eberhard and trumpeter Nikolaus Neuser to offer marvelous re-interpretations of Charles Mingus, both on Mingus, Mingus, Mingus (Leo Records, 2016) and, joined by vocalist Maggie Nicols, Mingus' Sounds of Love (Leo Records, 2019). But he is just as comfortable exploring the less charted realms of free improvisation, as he does quite skillfully with pianist Eve Risser and trombonist Matthias Müller on Formation < Deviation (Relative Pitch, 2021). And then there is A Suite of Soaps and Other Assorted Sceneries (Jazzwerkstatt, 2023) by Derek Plays Eric, an even harder-to-classify project with guitarist Andreas Willers and bassist Jan Roder, creating music that somehow fulfills the promise of the group's name by fusing the spirits of Derek Bailey and Eric Clapton into a mélange of prog rock, free jazz and R&B.

So it is safe to say that nothing Marien does should surprise anyone at this point, and as further evidence we have How Long is Now, yet another imaginative release that gains its appeal from its pan-stylistic inclinations.

For this project Marien joins forces with saxophonist/clarinetist Tobias Delius, guitarist Jasper Stadhouders and bassist Antonio Borghini, and it is evident from the churning, rhythmically infectious "40 Love/Goldrausch," that these guys know how to find a groove and see where it leads. The Afrobeat feel of the track is conveyed by Stadhouders, Borghini and Marien with polyrhythmic élan, while Delius' searing tenor sax matches their fervor. Yet the group explores other options with "The Lobster" and "The Landing," using oblique investigations rather than more overt approaches. The latter is the album's lone fully-improvised track, and it unfolds with an impressive degree of cohesiveness, and even a subtle rhythmic energy, despite its lack of predetermined structure. Stadhouders brings a voluble temperament to this track, alternating between jagged interjections and fluid runs, keeping things interesting throughout. Elsewhere Marien's compositions move in a more lyrical direction, demonstrated most noticeably during the first portion of "Lilly/Doppelhertz," featuring a graceful melody articulated with subtlety by Delius.

As with "Lilly/Doppelhertz," a number of the pieces are juxtapositions, with the tracks moving in disparate modes; "Doppelhertz" finds its way into an abrasive, off-kilter groove, with Delius delivering some fierce exclamations. "Phantome/Pouwl" has a similar dynamic, with a pensive, muted opening segment anchored by a tenuous bass line from Borghini that transitions into a free-bop-inflected section with Delius' clarinet limning the melody. "28-4/Pattersson Blues" begins in a semi-free vein before the piece finds its rhythmic center, finally morphing into a quick-tempo burner that allows all four musicians to raise the energy level even higher.

Although some listeners might find its wide stylistic breadth disconcerting, the unfettered creativity that abounds on How Long is Now is evident. Marien is a highly inventive drummer, and this album gives him an ideal opportunity to display the many facets of his muse.

Track Listing

40 Love/Goldrausch; The Lobster; Lilly/Doppelhertz; The Landing; Phantome/Pouwl; 28-4/Pattersson Blues; Deésse.


Album information

Title: How Long Is Now | Year Released: 2024 | Record Label: MarMade Records



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