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Lars Seniuk / New German Art Orchestra: Pendulum

Jack Bowers By

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German-born composer / arranger / trumpeter Lars Seniuk, who formed his first big band at age sixteen and has played with and written for many others since then, was barely twenty-six when Pendulum was recorded in Hamburg with the splendid New German Art Orchestra, an up-to-date version of the late Bob Brookmeyer's New Art Orchestra, established in Lubeck nearly three decades ago. As such, it is more a continuation and verification of Brookmeyer's legacy than an effort to traverse new and uncharted territory.

Seniuk, a gifted writer who is assuredly familiar with Brookmeyer's spare, forward-looking approach to big-band composition and often uses it as a template, gives the NGAO ample opportunity to verify its prowess, which it does without faltering. Aside from his progressive leanings, Brookmeyer always had a keen ear for engaging melodies, as does Seniuk (epitomized, for example, on "The End of Something Special," "Perceptions of Reality" or "Freud's Delight"). Brookmeyer's spirit is perceptible everywhere, especially so on "Freud's Delight" whose shuffling rhythms, unerring counterpoint and deft brushwork by drummer Silvan Strauss hearken back to the heyday of jazz in Kansas City.

The Pendulum swings again toward straight-ahead heartland-style swinging on "Der Wichsfrosh une sein Adjutant" whose nimble solos are delivered by tenor saxophonist Finn Wiesner and drummer Strauss. The temper is more forward-leaning on the restive "Prometheus," free-ranging "Narziss" and blues-tinted "Goldmund," with trumpeter Stephan Manning flying high on "Prometheus," alto Philipp Gerschlauer all over the map on "Narziss" and trombonist Sebastian Hoffmann comparatively more reserved on "Goldmund." Pianist Boris Netsvetaev and tenor Lutz Buchner add persuasive solos on "Something Special," bassist Matthias Eichhorn and alto Eldar Tsalikov on "Perceptions," Strauss, Tsalikov and Buchner on "Freud's Delight."

Seniuk's charts are clever and full of pleasant surprises, and Pendulum marks an impressive debut for a talented young musician from whom we'll no doubt be hearing more in short order.

Track Listing: Der Wichsfrosh und sein Adjutant; Prometheus; The End of Something Special; Narziss; Perceptions of Reality; Freud’s Delight; Goldmund.

Personnel: Lars Seniuk: leader, composer; Felix Meyer: trumpet, flugelhorn; Nicolas Boysen: trumpet, flugelhorn; Torsten Maass: trumpet, flugelhorn; Stephan Meinberg: trumpet, flugelhorn; Philipp Gerschlauer: alto, soprano sax, flute; Eldar Tsalikov: alto, soprano sax, flute; Lutz Buchner: tenor sax, clarinet, alto flute; Finn Wiesner: tenor sax, clarinet; Florian Leuschner: baritone sax, bass clarinet; Torben Seniuk: trombone; Tim Hepburn: trombone; Sebastian Hoffmann: trombone; Robert Hedemann: bass trombone; Sebastian Bohlen: guitar; Boris Netsvetaev: piano; Matthias Eichhorn: bass; Silvan Strauss: drums.

Title: Pendulum | Year Released: 2015 | Record Label: Mons Records

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