Writer Ulrich Kurth states in the liners...”(Norbert) Stein designs sounds and structures that are full of association with passages that almost seem to be rituals with their own peculiar musical language that comes from a variety of sources”. A fair description indeed! Saxophonist-composer Norbert Stein has been at the forefront of Europe’s independent creative-free music establishments while organizing his own label, called “Pata” which he refers to as – new archaic music. News Of Roi Ubu, denotes somewhat of a mystical plight revolving around a fictitious character called “King Ubu”....Despite the complexities and connotations, Stein along with 18 musicians continue their assault on fantasy while implementing and executing a proprietary musical language spoken through 21 compositions throughout 2 discs.
Stein’s sophisticated approach is filled to the brim with wit, humor, dashes of electronics, unique horn arrangements and lively or at times turbulent rhythmic development. Disc 1 features several pieces which at times emit a strong sense of theatrics, bizarre sounds, flutes, violinist’s emulating animal sounds, spoken word and that’s not all.... The composition titled, “Treomphre” features the crafty soloing of trumpeter’s Horst Grabosch and Jean Mereu atop a staggered rhythmic pulse as the large scale horn section emit emphatic and melodic choruses which bring Duke Ellington to mind. If Ellington dabbled in the avant-garde it may have sounded something like this, mainly through unorthodox yet appealing chromatic horn arrangements and memorable melodic interludes. On the somewhat eerie yet whimsical, “Autism Cap” we hear whistling over briefly stated horn charts complete with sparks of dissonance, ethnic percussion motifs and enticing thematic development. It doesn’t take long here to expect the unexpected as the music borders free jazz yet bridges the gap with well defined compositional structure and disciplined group interplay. On “Absinth”, Stein flips the cards as we are treated to an R&B-funk theme and roaring tenor work from Stein along with intentionally slurred and purposely torpid scat-like vocals from Hans Buhrs ....
Disc 2 is a continuation of the explorations of sounds and themes with spoken word over arco bass and high pitch electronics on “La Fete Surreal” and a lengthy percussion sequence on “Von Der Tonenden Insel”. Here we notice faint, low pitch droning in the background as if this were some sort of ceremonial ritual as violins eventually interact with horns, disparate motifs and crafty improvisational dialogue. Although, the potpourri of styles, themes and movements seem abstract and at times surreal, this is music which defies categorization within this increasingly expansive musical artform we call jazz. Stein’s brainy tactics and fertile imagination is a joy to behold! Comparisons are slim, as Stein’s music is adventuresome and seductive while maintaining a positive disposition along the way....Highly Recommended. * * * * ½
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