Bassist and composer Konstantin Ionenko continues to experiment with formations as he returns with yet another revised lineup on Noema. The name refers to a Greek word meaning "thought" or the content of thought. Recorded in Kiev, Ukraine and mastered in Moscow, the quartet album consists of eight original Ionenko compositions that bridge European chamber jazz and creative improvisation. As a composer, Ionenko has favored a refined blend of evocative lyricism and post-modern innovation and this release is no exception, building and expanding on tradition.
The lone returning Ionenko colleague is Pavel Galitsky, one of the most in-demand drummers in Eastern Europe. He has worked with Ionenko as part of the quintet on Deep Immersion (Fancy Music, 2013) and the Deep Tone Project quartet (Fancy Music, 2014). Trumpeter Dima Bondarev (here playing flugelhorn) is a Ukrainian native based in Germany. He has won a number of regional trumpet competitions throughout Europe. Trained in Europe and the US, guitarist Alex Maksymiw is a Toronto, Canada native of Ukrainian background, now living in Berlin.
Noema opens with "Kaleidoscope" and, true to its name, the piece is full of changes in time and shifts in texture albeit, without leaving the mid-tempo range. At ten-plus minutes, it provides opportunity for each of the players to shine. More abstract in nature are "Imprinted Acerbity" and the title track while "Far Out" mixes melodicism with a certain quirkiness. "Four Doors" has a freer swing to it while "Prelude" and "November" create an atmosphere of melancholy. All-in-all, there is a great amount of diversity and complexity in Ionenko's compositions.
Bondarev's bright and melodic horn dominates the lead on these pieces, in some cases trading off, or alternating, with Maksymiw's guitar. Smartly composed and played evocatively, Ionenko and Galitsky respectively provide the attitude and imaginative pacing that makes each of these compositions engaging and effective. Noema is thoughtful without being heavy-handed and Ionenko continues to develop as a composer and leader with each release.
Kaleidoscope; Imprinted Acerbity; Far Out; Glassy; Four Doors; Prelude; Noema; November.
Dima Bondarev: flugelhorn; Alex Maksymiw: guitar; Konstantin Ionenko: bass; Pavel Galitsky: drums.