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At first glance, the titles to bassist Henning Sieverts' compositions on Symmetry seem rather unusual. Eventually, after close inspection, one discovers the palindrome theme with titles like "Lion Oil," "Luz Azul" and "Evil Olive." Whether or not the clever naming is relevant to the music at hand remains unexplained. What is obvious about Symmetry is the focus on Sieverts' strong thematic material interpreted by a stellar quintet.
The disc enjoys sitting on the fence between progressive improvisation and modern classical sounds. The front line of trombonist Johannes Lauer and saxophonist/clarinetist Chris Speed is featured prominently throughout the disc. Sieverts devises contrapuntal tension between the two main soloists, and in spots cleverly blends in his bass with pianist Achin Kaufmann to create the illusion of a much larger orchestra. For example, the conversational spirit between bass, piano, trombone and clarinet on "Sun Is In Us," creates a heady momentum that resolves effortlessly into meaty solos by Sieverts and Speed.
Musically, the palindrome concept can be heard in the contrary motion between trombone and piano during the introduction to "Lion Oil," a pre-conceived gleeful waltz that bounces along courtesy of drummer John Hollenbeck. In stark contrast is the tumultuous "Deep Speed," a free-form leaning piece with intuitive ad-libbing from Lauer and Speed.
Stand out moments include the tranquil rhythmic sequence of "Leaves Fall Fall Leaves," the off-center swing feel of "Sum Summus Mus" and the floaty "Luz Azul," with a surprising reference to Miles Davis' "Solar."
Sieverts' writing is fresh and stylistically unique. The unpredictability heard throughout Symmetry makes for an enjoyable listen.
Track Listing: Top Spot; Sun Is In Us; Lion Oil; Deep Speed; All For One, One For All; Bird Rib; Leaves Fall Fall Leaves; Sum Summus Mus; Luz Azul; Never Odd Or Even; Evil Olive; We Few; Emit Time; Dr. Awkward.
Personnel: Henning Sieverts: bass; Johannes Lauer: trombone; Chris Speed: tenor saxophone, clarinet; Achim Kaufmann: piano; John Hollenbeck: drums.
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.