This multinational cast led by pianist Ursel Schlicht renders some downright invigorating improv on Sound Quest. With the opening piece, “Sound and Fury,” the soloists engage in dynamic interplay where bassist Ken Filiano steers the band into a blistering romp via his swiftly executed walking bass lines. The quintet moves about in climactic fashion as they deliver swirling choruses amid excitable flurries from trombonist Steve Swell and alto saxophonist Martin Speicher. Schlicht frequently provides the budding undercurrents, largely through massive block chords and fluently articulated arpeggios. Everyone plays a crucial role throughout, whether it’s drummer Lou Grassi’s polyrhythmic wizardry or Swell’s pathos-laden phraseology on “Implications.”
The musicians seemingly fabricate their motifs upon a multi-tiered approach, as if they are attempting to subliminally sneak up on you via a profusion of unexpected twists and turns. But there are some quiet moments, especially during “Sound Quest,” as Swell renders softly stated lyricism in concert with a memorable melodic hook. With “Crescendum,” the ensemble delivers a crash and burn manifesto, supported by Schlicht’s gushing crescendos and Grassi’s gyrating rhythmic developments. Recommended.