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Michel Wintsch/Gerry Hemingway/B: Identity

Robert Spencer By

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Any disc that features the master drummer Gerry Hemingway will be full of rhythmic surprises, and this one is no exception. Pianist Michel Wintsch, meanwhile, is a European-inflected pianist who is matched every step by bassist Bänz Oester.

This is music that derives from the jazz tradition in its instrumentation and great forward energy, but otherwise it may owe more to modern classical music than to the sounds of jazz. A piece like "Anne-Marie S" even nods explicitly to older classical forms, as if Webern were playing Mozart in his own idiom. Other tracks, like the quite buttoned-down "Holy Mess" that immediately follows, are more jazzy, although this one itself shifts in the middle to a glossy classical bridge.

These converging traditions invest the music with considerable originality. Like Steve Lacy, Wintsch likes to work over rising and falling motifs, climbing or descending the scalar stairs with a riff, during which Hemingway's artistry in varying his response, from a resounding thump to a skittery whisper, is most telling.

This is cerebral, engaging, involved, complex, and beautiful music.

Michel Wintsch, p; Gerry Hemingway, d; Bän Oester, b.

Title: Identity | Year Released: 2000 | Record Label: Leo Records

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