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Javier Vercher - Ferenc Nemeth: Imaginary Realm

Geannine Reid By

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Imagination is the ability to form a picture in your mind of something that you have not seen, heard or experienced; the ability to think of new things. Saxophonist Javier Vercher and Drummer Ferenc Nemeth´s project Imaginary Realm can be summed up by this dictum, creating a realm between the two of them that is creative and full of new things.

Saxophonist Javier Vercher was born in Madrid, but was raised in Valencia where he graduated from the Joaquin Rodrigo Conservatory of Valencia with a degree in classical clarinet. Vercher later attended the Berklee College of Music on a scholarship which lead to him calling Williamsburg, Brooklyn home. After spending 10 years in New York and recording records and discovering new ways of playing, in 2010 Vercher moved back to his hometown of Valencia, where he quickly settled back into the rhythms of his homeland, Vercher says, "I feel focused on the music, taking care of the music, studying sound, having a regular life. I work, and opportunities come along. New York is a great city, but I still need to learn in a different way—not only about jazz, but more about other aspects of life and how to insert these concepts into my playing and writing."

Drummer Ferenc Nemeth since the early days of his career, has been one of the most sought after drummers, both in his native Hungary as well as in the United States. Coming from a musical family, his unique dynamism and versatility was fostered from a very early age. An exciting performer and imaginative collaborator, Nemeth is well regarded for his work with the Lionel Loueke Trio and GilFeMa. Nemeth also studied at the Berklee College of Music in Boston. In addition, in 2011, Nemeth launched an app at the Mac AppStore called 'Drum School,' that is an educational tool, including over 300 drum grooves and hand exercises. This app is a rhythm library, an instructional DVD and a method book, all in one. Nemeth has also found time in between extensive performing and recording to established his own label, Dreamer's Collective Records, his second CD, Triumph was released in the autumn of 2012, with a cast of: Joshua Redman, Kenny Werner, Lionel Loueke as contributors, as well as a small wind orchestra. For over 10 weeks the album was among the Top 15 on the CMJ Jazz Charts. Imaginary Realm, is the third album for the label and it features a duo with Vercher, one of Nemeth's long time friends/band mate.

Imaginary Realm, is the second collaboration between Nemeth and Vercher, and as the title implies, the musical journey is about— states of mind. In 2007, the duo released their first set together, Wheel of Time. This time the duet focuses on creating an intentional mood with each sonic setting, some mysterious, some energetic and some with spiritual moments, but all of the tracks are intensely and emotionally played from the heart. The opening track, "Silent Stones" finds Nemeth creating a rhythmic setting of subtle wood tones from his percussion, while Vercher's warm saxophone floats over the rhythmic pad to begin our journey. The track creates a relaxed flowing meditative environment that leads to the title track, "Imaginary Realm," which begins with the intricate sounds of piano from guest artist David Kikoski, who appears on four tracks. The three musicians create long phrases that naturally breathe, expand and contract in the pulse. Always listening to each other, there is a sense of oneness with the moment that is created. Other tracks that evoke a slow-motion meditative feeling are "Poets of the East," "Prana" (the Sanskrit word representing breath) and "Sumerian Magic Spell" with the inclusion of the African wooden thumb box. Nemeth's polyrhythms on his kit and percussion drive the duet even on the slow pulsed sections, creating movement with intense subtlety. "Prana" sees Nemeth on brushes and colorful cymbal work along with accenting perfusion as Vercher caresses a melodic statement with an improvisational subtlety that matches the duet's gentle approach.

Although the mood is predominantly contemplative throughout the release, Nemeth and Vercher do create faster moving landscapes. The mid-tempo pulse of "Circles in the Sky" finds Vercher displaying a vast command of vocabulary from his horn, from the use of pentatonic scales with colorful chromatics to the intricacies of bebop, all supported by the ever vigilant pulse and groove from Nemeth. Nemeth fittingly steps up the intensity with a melodic "Drums" solo selection, building his cracking solo over his own polyrhythmic accompaniment. "Giant Henge" displays Nemeth´s mastery of multi-layering percussive figures which provides the foundation for Vercher´s impassioned solos as Kikoski´s piano matches Vercher´s creativity and intensity. This track is presented in a more traditional form with an intro, to a melody, a blowing section, to the melody again, then to an ending statement. This track exhibits this format more than any of the other selections on the project and its placement is expertly located within the set, creating that golden section climax that is then released for the culmination of the project, again showing the attention to detail and flow by the duet. The music covers a surprisingly wide terrain for a duet/trio and celebrates the beauty of melodic ideas that exist in the moment and at their own pace. The collective improvisation along with the written material creates a moody, slightly abstract space, but highly musical and rewarding. The duet draws liberally from influences across time and geographical space. The exotic, captivatingly fused sounds and use of space are much more than the sum of the duet's diverse backgrounds, which inevitably impart African, Europe, South and North American colors to the mix. With folkloric roots and abstract imagery, the duet radiates an openness that embraces the understated and the investigational alike, the coarse and the charming. Imaginary Realm joyously disregards any distinctions between the past and the contemporary—the musicians understand that the two are inextricably linked, and herein lies the simple formula for the duets ability to think of new and refreshing ideas.

Track Listing: Silent Stones; Imaginary Realm; Poets of the East; Form & Meaning; Drums; Prana; Circles in the Sky; Sumerian Magic Spell; Giant Henge; Prana (Revisited).

Personnel: Javier Vercher: sax tenore, african wooden box; Ferenc Nemeth: batteria, percussioni; David Kikoski: piano.

Title: Imaginary Realm | Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: Dreamers Collective


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