How does a band introduce freedom to its music? Does the band play free jazz or, to paraphrase saxophonist Joe Lovano, does it play its jazz free? Danish Drummer and leader of the Danish-German quartet FUSK, Kasper Tom Christiansen's, answer to this question is simple: "Who cares?" FUSK defines its own freedom, between contrapuntal springboard melodies, sometimes bordering on serial techniques, and catchy themes that employ hard-swinging rhythms, joint improvisations and expressive deconstruction of patterns, all performed with passionate playfulness and wise irony.
The quartet member are experienced improvisers. German Bass clarinetist Rudi Mahall plays in the acclaimed Globe Unity Orchestra and Der Rote Bereich quartet, fellow countryman saxophonist Philipp Gropper plays in the Hyperactive Kid trio and collaborates with Danish bassist Andreas Lang on his band Philm, and the two Danes collaborated on the QUARTz quartet. On its sophomore release, following the self-titled FUSK (WhyPlayJazz, 2011), Christiansen wrote all the compositions.
The title of this recording may as well be Hyperactive Tom. Christiansen together with Lang form a restless, powerful rhythm section that charges the reed players tight interplay with propulsive pulses, asymmetrical dynamics and playful, swinging rhythms. Mahall's thin and dry bass clarinet sound contrasts and complements the round, big sound of Gropper sax tenor, as exemplified on the poetic "Lufthafen."
On other compositions, as "Suburbia Surreal" and "Booze," the quartet erases the artificial distinctions between playing "inside" and "outside," alternating between the busy, even anarchic, reed quarrels and the massive, swinging bass, spiced with conscious nods to the legacy of the Ornette Coleman quartet. "De 12 Bud" (in Danish: the twelve commandments) is the quartet's ironic and irreverent elaboration of the serial techniques and "Isst doch Wurst" is a straight-ahead, emotionally charged melody. Christiansen leads the last composition, "Herr Kommandant," is a mix between a wild march and game-like playful interplay, true to the spirit of this excellent quartet.
Funny, inventive and provocative.
Musik; Läuft; Lufthafen; Suburbia Surreal; De 12 Bud; Odpowiednio; Isst doch Wurst; Booze; Fünf Sechs alte Keks; Led Right, Gleen Right; Alles klar, Herr Kommandant.
Kasper Tom Christiansen: drums; Philipp Gropper: tenor saxophone; Andreas Lang: bass; Rudi Mahall: bass clarinet.
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