Home » Jazz Articles » Album Review » Manuel Mengis Gruppe 6: The Pond

414

Manuel Mengis Gruppe 6: The Pond

By

Sign in to view read count
Manuel Mengis Gruppe 6: The Pond
Listening to Swiss trumpeter Manuel Mengis' cross-genre Gruppe 6 is to hear an intoxicating melange of musics, from bop and free-bop to skronk and groove, in which the spirit of bassist/bandleader Charles Mingus' jazz workshop lives again, recalibrated by geography and history.



Mengis' music is less intense in its passions—less tortured and confrontational—than Mingus,' and more discursive and elliptical, but the same little-big band aesthetic, with its fractured through-arrangements, rooted in the past but nudging at the future, is present. So, too, is an easy, open-hearted embrace of a broad range of jazz and jazz-related styles, from the astringent and the cerebral to the funky and the body rocking—with Mingus' hot gospel flavors replaced by chilled and trippy electric guitar and lazily insistent jam band backbeats which morph in and out of more complex rhythms.



Like Mingus,' Mengis' music is also gorgeously lyrical. The Pond is Gruppe 6's second album, following Into The Barn (Hat Hut, 2005), and when writing for it, Mengis says that he strove for a voice less loud, more subtle and more melodic than on the first disc. Four band members are holdovers from Into The Barn, with reed player Roland Von Flue and drummer Lionel Friedli the new recruits.



Mengis' charts are characterized by regular shifts in dynamics, speeds and rhythms—some smooth and gradual, some sudden and unexpected—and snippets of melody and rhythm which are reiterated, picked apart and eventually reconstructed. The shortest track here is almost nine minutes, the two longest between sixteen and eighteen, so there is plenty of time for unhurried, suite-like development.



Mengis' writing is enhanced by a line-up of characterful soloists. Stoffner's spacey, layered-chord solos on "Hide And Seek" and "Song For Violet" stick in the mind, as do Von Flue's smoky tenor on "Furry Buddy" and Escher's skronking alto on "Tomorrow Will Be Colder." Mengis' nimble, laser-precise, skittering lyricism is compelling and delightful whenever it emerges from the ensemble.



Ultimately, however, The Pond is a composer's album. That, like the finest classic Mingus, it sounds more like an epic head arrangement, gives it added allure.

Track Listing

Tomorrow With Be Colder; Furry Buddy; Hide And Seek; Song For Violet.

Personnel

Manuel Mengis: trumpet; Achim Escher: alto saxophone; Roland Von Flue: tenor saxophone, bass clarinet; Flo Stoffner: electric guitar; Marcel Stalder: electric bass; Lionel Friedli: drums.

Album information

Title: The Pond | Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: Hat Hut Records


Comments

Tags


For the Love of Jazz
Get the Jazz Near You newsletter All About Jazz has been a pillar of jazz since 1995, championing it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.

You Can Help
To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to vigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.

More

For Real!
Hampton Hawes
Jamalot
The Bobby Broom Organi-Sation
BEATitude
David Bixler

Popular

Get more of a good thing!

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories, our special offers, and upcoming jazz events near you.