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Next Experiment: Next Experiment

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Next Experiment: Next Experiment
Without musical ideas a band's shelf-life as a vital entity is usually limited—that is a given. Commitment is perhaps a more underrated quality. Pianist Leopoldo Osio and bassist Peter Erdei have bags of that, steering the Dublin band formerly known as CEO Experiment through the choppy waters of a key member leaving, followed by the long hiatus provoked by COVID-19. The trio, formed in 2013 with Peruvian drummer Cote Calmet, garnered widespread praise for its live performances and 2015's promising studio debut. The trio's zenith came in 2017 when Kurt Rosenwinkel joined Calmet, Erdei and Osio for a memorable gig at The Sugar Club. The only way was up. However, a year later, Calmet relocated to Spain, raising a question mark over the trio's continued existence.

In 2019 Osio and Erdei recruited Cork trombonist Paul Dunlea, Italian tenor saxophonist Gianni Gagliardi and Spanish drummer Gonzalo Del Val. This rebrand indicated a renewed determination to prevail. They recorded an album shortly thereafter, but its release was put on ice because of the global pandemic. The official launch of Next Experiment came fully four years later, in May 2024, before a full house on the main stage at Bray Jazz Festival. For Osio and Erdei in particular, it must have felt like vindication.

Osio penned all but one of these compositions, with Thomas Dolby's "Budapest by Blimp" the sole cover; an outlier choice perhaps, but "Sunbeam" (from CEO Experiment's debut) hinted at such synth-pop influences, ripe for future development. Ironically, at least as far as the Dolby cover is concerned, Osio eschews the electric piano and synthesizers that colored the first album, playing only acoustic piano here, and indeed throughout the band's sophomore effort. Erdei's bass faithfully reproduces "Budapest...."'s underlying groove, and Dunlea and Gagliardi jointly recast one of Dolby's pretty vocal melodies, but otherwise Next Experiment opens the composition up in surprising ways.

Rhythmic urgency characterizes much of the music, with De Val's cantering stickwork and Erdei's fruitily bubbling lines underpinning lively fare such as "Awakening" and "Europa," where horn-led melodies pave the way for individual bravura. Osio is in fine form, his extended improvisation on the former an exciting potpourri of scurrying runs, fleet glissandi and two-handed bounce. Only briefly, on "San Milan," does the Venezuelan pianist hint at his Latin roots. In fact, Next Experiment's influences are generally hard to discern, which speaks to the strengths of the writing, arranging and playing.

The collective fire is tempered on "Calle Constitución" by Osio's lyrical introspection and Gagliardi's sweetly melancholic lines, though Del Val's switch from brushes to sticks lifts the saxophonist to more impassioned heights on the home stretch. Likewise, the gentle tempo and economy of "About Us" accentuates the delicacy in Erdei's and Osio's playing that has always been part of CEO/Next Experiment's equation. Starting as it began, the album closes with a flourish, "Acceptance" harboring all the rhythmic panache, taught interplay and spirited soloing that makes this quintet such a live draw.

Nine years have passed between first and second albums—an age by any yardstick. Hopefully, Next Experiment can kick on from here. A handsome chapter in an evolving story.

Track Listing

Awakening; Budapest By Blimp; San Milan; Calle Constitución; Europa; About Us; Acceptance.

Personnel

Album information

Title: Next Experiment | Year Released: 2024 | Record Label: Self Produced


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