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Graewe/Mattos/Vatcher: Subsymbolism

Glenn Astarita By

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Here, we celebrate the first of 2 releases on the newly formed NUSCOPE record label. NUSCOPE records dutifully conveys the flavor of modern improvised jazz with smart packaging, photos of modern artwork gracing the CD inserts and superior audiophile sound quality.

Veteran modern jazz pianist Georg Graewe aligns himself with London based Marcio Mattos (bass) and American drummer Michael Vatcher. “Subsymbolism” was originally intended to be a series of Monk interpretations but traversed a different path ultimately evolving into free improvisational performances. Graewe, Mattos and Vatcher have produced a winner! Colorful, spacious, intense and full of depth, Subsymbolism is a mighty foray into modern improvised jazz. “Region BQ II” finds Pianist; Graewe experimenting with unconventional phrasing while bassist Mattos compliments with sensational walking bass lines which cover the full spectrum of the instruments capabilities. Here, drummer Vatcher puts on a drum clinic featuring crisp multi-textured snare drum work. Vatcher fluctuates behind his kit, employing rimshots, delicate cymbal work, odd meter rhythms but never deviates from the explosive pulse of Mattos’ pivotal bass structure. Mattos is the glue that bonds Graewe and Vatcher. Despite the “free” motifs, there is a strong suggestion of rhythmic cohesiveness throughout this recording. “Region BQ II” serves a s prime example of the group’s frequent tempo changes that evolve in a seamless fashion. “Allures” teases at first with a few grandiose chords from Graewe but quickly develops into a call and response exercise between the pianist and Vatcher. “Allures” evokes images of a lover’s quarrel. Vatcher often matches Graewe in a seemingly argumentative dialogue. The pace accelerates into a furious tirade of perpetual motion. “Stream” as the title may implicate takes the listener down a winding path that initially reminded this reviewer of Keith Jarrett’s acclaimed “Standards Trio”; however, the pianist raises the intensity several notches augmented by a supercharged rhythm section, not to mention an exhilarating polyrhythmic drum solo by Vatcher.

“Subsymbolism” is an exquisite work that breathes new life into the current state of modern improvised jazz. The tonal quality, performances and top-notch production are superb. A world class effort that challenges perceptions of what jazz should be. Highly Recommended.


Title: Subsymbolism | Year Released: 1999 | Record Label: Nuscope Recordings

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