If you've followed guitarist David Fiuczynski's work in recent years, then you should already know that he's continually intensifying his search for what exists in the spaces between the spaces. While Fuze has always registered as something of a non-conformist, he's now completely shed a layer of skin and left conventional Western musical tuning behind, evolving into a microtonal guru working with a uniquely non-patternistic patois.
Through his teaching at Berklee, and with albums like Planet MicroJam
(RareNoise, 2012) and Flam! Blam! Pan-Asian MicroJam!
(RareNoise, 2016), Fiuczynski has managed to carve out his own niche in the world of microtonal avant-jazz. MikroJazz!: Neue Expressionistische Musik
is simply the latest and the greatest piece of evidence to make that case. In teaming up with kindred spirit Philipp Gerschlauer, a saxophonist who's been making parallel explorations and discoveries over the past decade, Fiuczynski has found his wonderfully warped match. And once you add microtonal keyboard ace Giorgi Mikadze
, fretless bazz wizard Matt Garrison, and drum titan Jack DeJohnette
to the equation, the already-expansive realm of possibility here becomes ever wider.
While it may take many an ear a little while to acclimate to the microtonal climate, it proves to be a hospitable one once that period of adjustment is complete. The swinging "MikroSteps," hallucinogenic "Für Mary Wigman," and aggressive-cum-devious "November" all come to feel like a new normal after some time spent with this record. What once seemed warped, now feels fine.
Most of these pieces fall far left of jazz center no matter the metric used to measure them, but this remains music that can be both admired and enjoyed. "MiCrOY Tyner," for example, manages to pull McCoy Tyner
's attitude and firm-handed aesthetic into a new and appealing zone. Just don't be fooled into thinking anything here is about bowing to jazz totems. This band really has its own thing happening on songs like "Hangover," capturing the cloud of the post-drunken headache; "LaMonte's Gamelan Jam," speaking in pseudo-Asiatic tones and meditative thoughts before partly crystallizing into a grooving expedition; and "Sofia Im Türkischen Café," a spellbinding, garnet-colored ballad of disorienting dimensions.
As odd as it might sound, getting lost in this music is the easiest way to truly find your way. This intrepid quintet has fashioned a world and sound all its own, leveraging a vocabulary that moves beyond most borders and twisting it to its own advantage and design. There's intelligence, humor, intensity, thoughtfulness, and risk behind the music to be found on Mikrojazz!: Neue Expressionistische Music
MikroSteps; Für Mary Wigman; Lullaby Nightmare; MiCrOY Tyner; Umarmung; Last CHance; November; Hangover; LaMonte's Gamelan Jam; Walking Not Flying; Sofia Im Türkischen Café; Zirkus Macabre.
Philipp Gerschlauer: alto saxophone; David Fiuczynski: fretted and fretless guitars; Jack DeJohnette: drums; Matt Garrison: fretless bass; Giorgi Mikadze: microtonal keyboards.