Pianist Sebastien Ammann
is originally from Switzerland but has been part of the New York City jazz scene since 2008, collaborating with musicians such as Kris Davis
, Tony Malaby
, Ohad Talmor
and George Schuller
. His current main focus is on his quintet, Color Wheel, whose second album is a kaleidoscope of fresh sounds and interesting musical combinations.
Ammann's compositions often have spiky surfaces carved out by saxophonist Michael Attias
and trombonist Samuel Blaser
which are then made palpable by the solid rhythmic foundations created by Ammann, bassist Noah Garabedian
and drummer Nathan Ellman-Bell
. On "Untangled" the rhythm section's swirling meshes compellingly with the horn players' angular melody work and busy, forceful soloing. "The Traveller" moves along a more amiable path, with Attias and Blaser coolly bouncing off each other as the leader plays piano with a light classical touch. The piece's wistful mood is maintained by Attias' wandering soprano sax solo.
Ammann uses Fender Rhodes electric piano for a couple of tracks. On "Castello di Tracillo," he generates a chunky funk vortex with the bass and drums while the alto and trombone smear sour lines on top. The mix comes off like a modern variation of Herbie Hancock
's Mwandishi band of the 1970s. On "Resilience" Ammann's electric soloing against his own double-tracked acoustic piano chords enlivens the weighty spiritual jazz pulse pushed out by the rest of the quintet.
On Carla Bley
's "King Korn Revisited," Attias and Blaser enjoy a honking duet of short horn phrases, before giving way to the rhythm section playing fast walking piano trio runs like early Paul Bley
. "Afterthought," by trumpeter Dave Scott
, is a lovely swaying ballad where Ammann plays with romantic drama against the soft propulsion of the horns, eloquent bass and Nathan-Bell's sparkling brush work. "Yayol" starts with a radiant cry of alto and bright piano trills before the drummer leads everyone into a jaunty, bouncing melody and "Pedestrian Space" is an exercise in sound collage with the individual members of the quintet each playing patterns of percussive noise that intersect and coalesce into a lively rhythmic tapestry.
Sebastien Ammann's music brings together a lot of parts that would seem to clash but somehow make them work. He and his partners in Color Wheel make intriguing music that bends balladry, funk, jazz, abstraction and other forms to their will but still sounds friendly and accessible. This CD is a fun mix of music that rewards several listens.
Yayoi; Untangled; Castello di Traliccia; Resilience; King Korn Revisited; Aylan Kurdi; The Traveller; Afterthought;