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Pascal Niggenkemper: Pasapas

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While essentially a jazz album, Pasàpas, by bassist/composer Pascal Niggenkemper's trio, explores various musical landscapes with vigor and solid musicianship, presenting a nicely diverse lineup of original tunes.

"Reverie Espagnole" opens with the symphonic lament of Niggenkemper's sonorous arco and then moves into an up-tempo rhythm, where saxophonist Robin Verheyen unleashes a wicked soprano. Tyshawn Sorey provides his usual alchemy on drums with sophisticated and complex rhythms. On ballads, Verheyen's tenor is ruminative and melodic, whether he's complementing Sorey's cymbal caresses on "Penser à Vous" or engaging in a lovely dialogue with Niggenkemper on "Tree Free."

While several tunes on Pasàpas sound improvised, only a pair of them are officially listed as such. On "Improv #1" Niggenkemper and Verheyen (on tenor) work off of Sorey's percussive metronome. The trio moves between free jazz, R&B and funk idioms, but the payoff is less than satisfying. On the other hand, the vortex of Verheyen's passionate tenor drives "Improv #2," which is so crisp and sure-handed that it sounds composed.

Guest Johannes Lauer announces himself with an elephantine burst from his trombone, this humorous introduction typifying the carnival-like "Popov" and "OK." Lauer's style and sound are perfect for the band and his over-hill-and-over-dale interplay with Verheyen is especially good.

Niggenkemper displays impressive range in his playing, from the growling arco on "Improv #2" to his splendid pizzicato on "Baobab." Sorey is dynamite with sticks, brushes or bare hands and Verheyen is simply an excellent sax man. Hopefully Pasàpas will be just one of many releases to come from this fine trio.

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