414

Manuel Mengis Gruppe 6: The Pond

Chris May 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.

Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: Hat Hut Records | Style: Modern Jazz


Shop

CD/LP/Track Review
Interviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles

More Articles

Read The Picasso Zone CD/LP/Track Review The Picasso Zone
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: February 23, 2017
Read The MUH Trio – Prague After Dark CD/LP/Track Review The MUH Trio – Prague After Dark
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Les Deux Versants Se Regardent CD/LP/Track Review Les Deux Versants Se Regardent
by John Sharpe
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Molto Bene CD/LP/Track Review Molto Bene
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Fellowship CD/LP/Track Review Fellowship
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 22, 2017
Read E.S.T. Symphony CD/LP/Track Review E.S.T. Symphony
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 22, 2017
Read "One" CD/LP/Track Review One
by Roger Farbey
Published: April 21, 2016
Read "Magic Light" CD/LP/Track Review Magic Light
by James Nadal
Published: April 26, 2016
Read "Traffic" CD/LP/Track Review Traffic
by Dave Wayne
Published: September 8, 2016
Read "Ashé" CD/LP/Track Review Ashé
by James Nadal
Published: July 11, 2016
Read "The Volume Surrounding The Task" CD/LP/Track Review The Volume Surrounding The Task
by Mark Corroto
Published: June 26, 2016
Read "Born In An Urban Ruin" CD/LP/Track Review Born In An Urban Ruin
by John Sharpe
Published: January 24, 2017

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!