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Op Der Schmelz: Live

Glenn Astarita By

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This multinational quartet casts a surfeit of moody and climactically oriented movements, captured for this disc live at a venue in Luxembourg. Gushing with shifty theme-building exercises, New York- based pianist Roberta Piket often serves as the director of operations via her sympathetic comping, cascading chord voicings, and animated free-bop improvisational passages, yet overall, it's a democratic engagement.

Even though the band primarily resides in the free-zone, they do not forsake melodic content. The program here is uncluttered and not overcooked. Each musician has an equal say, and is offered numerous opportunities to stretch their wares. Treated with moments of sublime quietude, the musicians often generate oscillating currents. On "LVIV," bassist Mark Tokar's poignant lines pave the way for a yearning and probing ballad, modelled with contrapuntal instances as drummer Klaus Kugel outlines the perimeter with gentle cymbal hits.

"Budmo, Hay!" features Roby Glod's expressive soprano sax work atop Kugel's burgeoning pulse, where the band builds up steam with fluid progressions. Piket's zinging harmonics help catapult the quartet into another dimension. But they wind it down, projecting sentiment that mirrors a sense of isolation or loneliness, driven home by Tokar's solemn solo that contrasts the blistering bridge section. However, it's a comprehensive set also containing lush passages and counterbalancing bop. In sum, the musicians' noticeably convey a focused engineering strategy that doesn't harp on the somewhat typical free-form blowing sessions. Essentially, they color the proceedings with a steadfast, artistic viewpoint.

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