365

Dan Berg & The Gestalt: Manifesto

Karl Ackermann By

Sign in to view read count
Dan Berg & The Gestalt: Manifesto Manifesto, the debut release from Dan Berg & The Gestalt, may be one of 2010's best recordings. The composer/keyboardist—a Brooklyn native and former student of reed man Marty Ehrlich—has created a smart, versatile and accessible collection that bridges genres and techniques, while remaining at home in the jazz idiom. With touches of Tin Hat Trio, bits of rock, Latin and the occasional operatic vocal, Manifesto has a broad appeal that fits contentedly within the overall scheme of the collection. Berg's eclectic tastes would not be a surprise to those aware of his cultural studies in Havana, or his work as an activist. Those tastes, as the album title may suggest, are manifested throughout the collection.

Right from the opening "Waiting for a Hit," it's clear that Berg is up to something different. An ethereal, wordless vocal from Kristin Young melds with bassist Matt Wigton and Pat Agresta's rock-oriented drumming. These diverse musical elements are brought together with Berg's expert use of melodica. The pace shifts dramatically with Berg moving to Fender Rhodes, as clarinetist Adrian Mira and alto saxophonist Jessica Lurie slow the tempo and provide highly satisfying solos. The overall effect of the piece is a so unique that each listen seems to reveal a different compositional aspect. "Why is a Crooked Letter" follows, with Agresta establishing a complex, off-kilter rhythm, while Berg, on mid-tempo piano, builds a restrained, but critical, foundation. Mira's clarinet incorporates some classical traits in opposition to the more driving background beat.

Berg's Rhodes reappears in "Conexions" and, while that instrument often signifies fusion, Berg's stylistic control blurs the lines that would allow for such easy labeling. The piece is edgy, with a contagious hook and a late touch of reggae. "Vibrant Phrases" could easily have been a flashback to the heyday of Motown, were it not for Young's soprano vocal. As before, her voice adds a dramatic otherworldly balance to Berg's Rhodes. The collection wraps up "Magnetisma," an acoustic solo from Berg. The slower tempo and assorted exotic rhythms seem a perfect way to close—a beautiful, spare counterpoint to the multidimensional opening.

The overall effect of Manifesto is a stunning montage of pieces that flow flawlessly yet retain their individual and unconventional nuances. This is a beautiful collection, full of energy, charm and creativity, but always with just enough edge to challenge the ear. Berg's use of synthesizer, and somewhat less traditional melodica, is subtle. They fit perfectly and, like Kristin Young's occasional vocals, add to the overall ambiance. There isn't a throwaway track in the collection, and Berg's talents as a composer, multi-instrumentalist and arranger are on display throughout. Manifesto is an exceptional work that is both modern and timeless.

Track Listing: Waiting for a Hit; Why is a Crooked Letter; Relish Your Fears; Timshel (Thou Mayest); Conexions; Hook it Up; Vibrant Phases; Magnetisma.

Personnel: Dan Berg: piano, Fender Rhodes, Moog synthesizer, melodica, triangle; Kristin Young: vocals; Adrian Mira: clarinet; Jessica Lurie: alto saxophone; Matt Wigton: bass; Pat Agresta: drums.

Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: Self Produced | Style: Modern Jazz


Shop

More Articles

Read LifeCycle CD/LP/Track Review LifeCycle
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 23, 2017
Read Right Up On CD/LP/Track Review Right Up On
by Roger Farbey
Published: April 23, 2017
Read Wanderlust CD/LP/Track Review Wanderlust
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: April 23, 2017
Read Imagination CD/LP/Track Review Imagination
by Geannine Reid
Published: April 23, 2017
Read Evolution CD/LP/Track Review Evolution
by Greg Simmons
Published: April 23, 2017
Read On A Monday Evening CD/LP/Track Review On A Monday Evening
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: April 22, 2017
Read "No Parking Any Time" CD/LP/Track Review No Parking Any Time
by Matthew Aquiline
Published: February 12, 2017
Read "Satori" CD/LP/Track Review Satori
by Chris Mosey
Published: November 1, 2016
Read "Fake It Until You Make It" CD/LP/Track Review Fake It Until You Make It
by Jack Bowers
Published: November 17, 2016
Read "A Night Walking Through Mirrors" CD/LP/Track Review A Night Walking Through Mirrors
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 11, 2017
Read "Walk Against Wind" CD/LP/Track Review Walk Against Wind
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: April 14, 2017
Read "Piano Song" CD/LP/Track Review Piano Song
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: January 2, 2017

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!