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Album Review

Schnell: Live at Sowieso


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Schnell: Live at Sowieso
This international trio spares no effort with its plight to create hyper-mode bebop like gamma rays streaming through the universe at light speed. It's a rather amazing live set, that was probably meant to be performed in front of an audience and not in a cloistered studio setting. To say it's invigorating doesn't tell the whole story. Saxophonist Pierre Borel offers many lessons here, largely steeped in intensely focused attacks, where he dishes out a menagerie of stunning improvisational movements, pushing his rhythm section towards the limit of available energy reserves.

With cyclonic progressions, almost always with a sense of urgency, the trio usually drives these extended bop works into 10th gear. At times, the musicians rearrange the hard bop vernacular, deconstruct and resurrect into a new set of themes, usually at warp speed. Rising (super)star drummer Christian Lillinger is a force of nature to the nth degree via his crisp cymbals work, flickering rim shots, monstrous press rolls and ability to maintain a presence that would be quite demanding—to say the least—for most drummers.

Borel generally soars into the upper registers, emphasized with spirited extended notes at a whirlwind pace, countered by nanosecond shifts in tempo and pitch. Meanwhile, bassist Antonio Borghini instigates and executes recoiling linear and unison lines in addition to circular ostinato motifs. Moreover, on "Shaw No Evidence of Dr. J" the band sustains a relentless pace of improvising bliss within the bop mold, yet lowers the temperature with gusty intervals, and rocks your brain with complex time signatures.

On "Schnell, Pt. 3" Borel is all over the map with articulate flurries while building tension and finally letting all the air out the balloon due to his exhaustive approach atop Borghini's impossibly fast phrasings. The saxophonist is a cunning improviser who transparently interlaces technical mastery with a highly entertaining delivery as the same could be said for the rhythm section. In sum, Schnell injects a welcome shot of adrenaline into post-bop or hard bop idioms with its magnificent vitality and nearly unimaginable synergy. An essential pick for 2018.

Track Listing

Schnell, Pt.1; Schnell, Pt. 2; Shaw No Evidence Of Dr. J; A Flower Is A Lovesome Thing; Schnell, Pt. 3.


Pierre Borel: saxophone; Antonio Borghini: bass; Christian Lillinger: drums.

Album information

Title: Live at Sowieso | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: Clean Feed Records

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