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British pianist Bruno Heinen studied classical music at the Royal College of Music, and jazz with fellow countryman and renowned jazz pianist John Taylor. He comes from both sides of the fence so to speak, which is an aspect that translates rather well on these pieces composed by pioneering and influential classical composer Karlheinz Stockhausen. Heinen's articulate and imaginative arrangements of Tierkreis (the signs of the Zodiac) are framed on 12 melodies based on tone rows. And one of the more conspicuous attributes of this presentation resides within Heinen's ability to translucently fuse these often disparate musical genres.
With his talented support structure, Heinen knocks borders down via this cohesive alliance between Stockhausen's works and the outside realm of progressive jazz. At times, the pianist injects flurries reminiscent of Bill Evans while also opening pieces with probing, toy piano phrasings. The ensemble is well-rehearsed and executes vacillating passages steeped in improvisation, largely complementing the melodic themes and intricately engineered rhythms.
Tenor saxophonist Tomas Challenger signals an after- houses vibe with his soulful lines on "Gemini." Drummer Jon Scott instills a sense of urgency with bustling undercurrents as the musicians veer into a crisp swing vamp and decompose the primary motif on "Leo" where the musicians initiate a swelling current and loosen it up by delving deep into a horns-generated improvisational pattern during the bridge.
Stylistic diversity is a key factor, evidenced on "Scorpio," which is constructed with an odd-metered rock groove, sketched by chirpy horns and free expressionism as Heinen steers the band back to home base for the finale. Wondrously synchronized yet not over-baked, Heinen's arrangements pronounce astute vision and maturity to coincide with a highly entertaining form-factor.
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.