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German composer, Dietrich Eichmann’s “Oaksmus” label is rooted within free jazz, avant-garde classical and electronics-based formats. Here, Americans, Jeff Arnal (percussion) and John Hughes (bass) align their wares with German alto saxophonist, Lars Scherzberg for a program consisting of nine free-style opuses that often spur notions of the British free jazz movement.
A graduate of Vermont’s prestigious “Bennington College,” Jeff Arnal has been shedding with New York City-based saxophonist, Blaise Siwula and Baltimore’s fine bassist/composer, F. Vattel Cherry. On this release, the drummer/percussionist anchors the proceedings via his multifarious and discreetly organized rhythmic structures, amid Scherzberg’s jagged statements and microtonal passages. Moreover, the saxophonist incorporates shrieks, half tones, spurts, and upper register honks into the agenda. Thus, Sherzberg tap dances atop the rhythm sections’ often-oscillating flows and intersecting activities.
The trio raises the bar in spots; however, there is not much here that distinguishes this effort apart from the abundance of free-jazz type outings that have been released in droves over the last several years. Taken as a whole, Top Floor Encounter is a relatively solid production despite a lingering sense of invariability that permeates many of these works.
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.