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Pol Belardi's Force: Organic Machines

Don Phipps By

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On Organic Machines, Pol Belardi's Force quartet offers intoxicating, warmly accessible melodies over rock beats. Composing all 14 numbers on the album, Belardi's lyricism is buoyed by a relatively light touch on bass and the three musicians who accompany him on this outing, pianist Jerome Klein, saxophonist David Fettmann and drummer Niels Engel.

All of the numbers on the album are high-spirited. Like an eagle that does not land but rather soars up and into the bright sunny sky, in and out of the clouds, circling the mountain tops and swooping down to verdant forests and valley roads, Belardi's compositions employ energetic rhythms and time signatures that move forward until they peak and then use the established momentum to glide until propelled forward again.

The opening number, "Organic Machines," demonstrates this perfectly. Belardi punctuates his phrases with syncopated backbeats, and Fettmann, in bird-like fashion, plays long legato notes that take flight above. Or take "Drive," where Engle adds off-beat smacks on the snare as Fettmann issues rising legato phrases that sound almost otherworldly. The rhythm scoots along, propelled by Belardi's bass lines and Engle's all over technique—replete with hard rolls and engaging bass drum pedal work.

Other numbers feature Klein's gentle but precise piano stroke. Listen to the sound of bells he generates on "Melancholic Mechanical Mind." Belardi also plays piano on four of the tracks and exhibits a soft Debussy-like technique on both "Miniature #1-Chrome Reflections" and "Miniature #2-Slow Motion Clockwork." Fettmann joins him in duets on the two impressionistic miniature pieces, adding tones that suggest colors of pastels and bright blues.

Perhaps the strongest piece on the album is "Riding the Tiger," where Klein's repeated piano riffs are juxtaposed against Fettmann's long lyrical arcs. Klein demonstrates a bit of McCoy Tyner fury at times and the piece finishes with a hard bop rock ending, with Klein pouncing on the piano in full chordal emphasis and Engel pushing the drums forward at full gallop.

There is much to like about Organic Machines, and Belardi's writing style will certainly satisfy those who have a penchant for a brighter, more optimistic style of jazz. One wonders how Belardi can write such strong beautiful melodic lines without sounding saccharine. Maybe that is the best gift Belardi imparts to the listener.

Track Listing: Organic Machines; Melancholic Mechanical Mind; Riding the Tiger; Miniature #1-Chrome Reflections; Gentle Giants; Heartbeat Pulse/Sync; The Ancestors Are Watching; Miniature #2-Slow Motion Clockwork; January 5th; Recalibration; Alone; Miniature #3-Useless Devices; Drive; Constructed Emotion.

Personnel: David Fettmann: alto saxophone; Jerome Klein: piano; Niels Engel: drums; Pol Belardi: bass, compositions.

Title: Organic Machines | Year Released: 2019 | Record Label: Cristal Records

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