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Peter Madsen: Never Bet The Devil Your Head

Mike Jurkovic By

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Based on pianist/composer/bandleader Peter Madsen's extensive CV: Stan Getz, Stanley Turrentine, Dewey Redman, Benny Golson, Don Cherry, Kenny Garrett, Joe Lovano, Dave Liebman, Ravi Coltrane, Maceo Parker, Bill Frisell, John Abercombie and the Mingus Big Band, it's not surprising and often brilliant that on his eighth release for Playscape, Madsen exhibits a nearly prog-rock, anything goes flair on Never Bet the Devil Your Head.

Inspired by reading a different Edgar Allan Poe story before sitting down and composing, Madsen unleashes an episodic series of suites within suites within shifting concepts, echoing Poe's dark poetry and sinister intent. With his stealthy Seven Sins Ensemble at his beck and call, styles collide and collude mid-song with odd meters, joined together with improvisational passages, challenging the listener with angular obtusenesss, structured free-fall and avant grade, like a Salvation Army band that can't find its way but makes a very compelling and long lasting noise along the way. The Seven Sins Ensemble—Masden, violinists Aleksandra Lartseva and Monica Tarscsay, trumpeter Herbert Walser, Simon Frick on viola, cellist Bianca Riesner; bassist Herwig Hammerl, and drummer Martin Grabher—broadly and keenly articulate Masden's knotty constructions. All ten tracks: "The Raven," "The Tell-Tale Heart," "The Cask of Amontillado," "The Sphnix," (wherein trumpeter Walser comes on like a ribald Satchmo in his prime), along with the title track move from tense string quartet to piano trio freedom. The edge-of-sanity closer "A Descent Into the Malestrom" is a dark, vivid, restless piece, with varying momentums, cornered wit, and dizzying mood swings.

Track Listing: The Raven; A Dream Within A Dream; The Tell-Tale Heart; The Cask Of Amontillado; The Sphinx; Never Bet The Devil Your Head; The Fall Of The House Of Usher; Mesmeric Revelation; The Masque Of The Red Death; A Descent Into The Maelström.

Personnel: Peter Madsen: piano; Herbert Walser: trumpet; Aleksandra Lartseva, Monica Tarcsay: violin; Simon Frick: viola; Bianca Riesner: cello; Herwig Hammerl: bass; Martin Grabher: drums.

Title: Never Bet The Devil Your Head | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: Playscape Recordings

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