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Niculin Janett Quartet (feat. Rich Perry): No Parking Any Time

Matthew Aquiline By

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Zurich-based alto saxophonist and composer Niculin Janett, in the naming of his quartet's debut album, encapsulated the essence of his music with an otherwise vexatious phrase that regularly victimizes most city dwellers: No Parking Any Time. Although irritating for motorists, an ordinance prohibiting parking in terms of music, especially jazz, would seemingly stimulate perpetual movement and growth. Uniting under this theme of motion, Janett's quartet slices the brake lines and speeds ahead, depositing an inspired set of meandering music along the way.

In addition to bassist Lisa Hoppe and drummer Rodrigo Recabarren, Janett recruited the great tenor saxophonist Rich Perry, attaching a great degree of experience to his pianoless quartet. Nonetheless, Perry never lets his many years of playing outshine the talents of his younger bandmates. Clearly reveling in the position of sideman, Perry adds his sophisticated touch to four Janett originals, two Hoppe originals, and two standards.

During the band's arrangement of "Body and Soul," we are first introduced to Janett's understated timbre through an unaccompanied solo that elegantly revamps the song's timeless melody. Hoppe and Recabarren, though only two musicians, construct sweeping textures that absorb every note blown out of Janett and Perry's saxophones. The group's creative take on standards is further developed with their version of "I'll Be Seeing You" (featuring a particularly impressive solo by Perry), but it's on the original compositions where this band truly excels.

Take Janett's "30 Orchard Street" for example: the jaunty melody fuses bebop with Ornette Coleman, racing through a sinuous trajectory before crashing into a bout of dexterous soloing. Both saxophonists solo with an acute sense of playfulness and humor, sometimes veering off course with hasty runs from the upper to the lower register that are echoed by the rhythm section in terms of dynamics. Dialing back the jovial interplay when appropriate, the band radiates with subdued charm on the pensive ballad "Purcell's Revenge," where Recabarren's tasteful brushwork embellishes sublime solos by Janett and Perry.

Hoppe exhibits her compositional prowess with two expressive originals, "Alternate End" and "The Importance of Being Idle." The former exudes a sense of mystery and longing, fostering alluring harmonies that weave over an off-kilter, latin- esque groove. Janett and Perry, both being cerebral players, solo with a constant decisiveness that tests the rhythm section's responsiveness to fluctuating intensity...a test that Hoppe and Recabarren have passed with flying colors.

The apex of the album is reached on Janett's "Hypocrisy" and "Exclamation." "Hypocrisy," acting as a sort of prelude to the latter, is a shorter, swift piece in which an elaborate melody is thoroughly explored and harmonized to its limit by Janett and Perry before a hard-hitting drum solo provides a striking transition. Recabarren's bass drum and cymbal hits establish a tense atmosphere for an agitated vamp that evolves into unfettered improvisation on the appropriately titled "Exclamation." The band's ability to augment potency while still retaining distinct subtleties is impeccable.

On No Parking Any Time, a quartet still in its infancy demonstrates a matured sense of cohesion and musicianship that is otherwise cultivated through many, many years of playing. Needless to say, the quartet abides to the law that governs its album cover.

Track Listing: Body and Soul; Alternate End; 30 Orchard Street; Purcell's Revenge; Hypocrisy; Exclamation; The Importance of Being Idle; I'll Be Seeing You.

Personnel: Niculin Janett: alto saxophone; Rich Perry: tenor saxophone; Lisa Hoppe: bass; Rodrigo Recabarren: drums.

Title: No Parking Any Time | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: QFTF

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