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The term, "Impressionism" has been bandied about with such regularity in recent times that it has all but ceased to mean anything, much less suggest the kind of music that came from the pen of Claude Debussy and, a short time later, from that equally famous French composer, Maurice Ravel. Every once in awhile, however, there is a genuine reminder that the art of impressionistic suggestion is alive as it was at the turn of the 19th century. The latest and rather powerful impressionistic set of compositions (and performances) comes by way of New Brighton, from Domenic Landolf, the Swiss reeds and woodwinds player, who turns in exquisite performances alongside astute and stellar turns by extraordinarily expressive, fellow-Swiss bassist, Patrice Moret, and the Serbian-born, Germany-based percussion colorist, Dejan Terzic.
This well-matched union is occasioned by a possible visit to the now desolate shores of New Brighton, formerly a bustling boardwalk along the shores of the mouth of the Mersey estuary, on the western side of the British Isle. The fabulously toned cover picture on the album jacket says it all: a ghostly reminder of the "Hell Hole" that once attracted teddy boys like John, Paul, George and Ringo to land's end on the Wirral Peninsula, Merseyside. But there is much more to the album than the wonderfully curved melody of "New Brighton," or the skittering shuffle of "The Beatles Go East." Landolf captures sweeping vistas and broad swathes of panoramic soundscape on his adroitly manipulated tenor horn. His breathless solos are crafted like the whispering of night-sprites mingling with hobgoblins, as they traverse a crepuscular landscape. Clearly Landolf has listened carefully to a select group of tenor practitioners from Lester Young to Joe Henderson, but his voice is a singular onesoftly caressing each note that he brings forth, each phrase that he utters with warmth and humor, and every line that emerges from the burnished bell of his tenor.
On bass clarinet, Landolf is not very different. "Les Bouts du Monde" is a classic example of how to make a bass clarinet forget its cutting tonal edge, for what emerges from the curved bell of that instrument, at the hands of Landolf, are warm and gilded sounds that carve through the air with the resonance of belfry in motion, yet with sensuous caressing warmth. His minimalism is displayed throughout, but especially on the truly memorable "Calling the Spirits" and "Kululeka." The broad tremolo and perfect intonation displayed on the classic ballad, "My Old Flame," shows Landolf to be both an old soul as well as a contemporary master of the tenor. Fortuitously, he is urged on by Moret's spectacular harmonics and Terzic's deft enharmonic splashes. Together, this group raises the bar on trio music without making too much of a noise. The charm of New Brighton is spectacular and unforgettable.
Track Listing: Lehar; Storm Chaser; Les Bouts du Monde; W.E.; Calling the Spirits; Cho Oyu; Enchanted Beans; Fjord; Kululeka; Malstrom;; New Brighton; The Beatles Go East; My Old Flame.