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Matthias Lupri: Transition Sonic

Ken Franckling By

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More than five years on the road as a rock, blues and country drummer gave Matthias Lupri lots of days and nights to hone his craft as a vibes player and, as Transition Sonic so splendidly shows, to develop his skills and vision as a composer.

This CD, featuring a sextet, is best heard straight through in order to savor its intent and its beauty. It is a 12-part suite of related compositions. Soloing that comes straight out of the bop tradition enhances tunes that can be enjoyed as a package, or in more than a few cases—like "Sonic" and "Iceland Dark"—can stand alone quite effectively. "Deception" is another gem, one that reveals much about Lupri's artistry as a soloist.

Trumpeter Cuong Vu is the standout on "Middle Zone" as he darts in and out of Lupri's ethereal soloing. Thomson Kneeland's bowed bass over vibes and electronic looping on the aforementioned "Iceland Dark" sets the work's brooding mood. Such looping and other bits of electronica are used effectively by four of the six members of the ensemble (all but sax and drums) and are never overdone. They include extended reverb from guitarist Nate Ridley and Vu's electronic echo effects on trumpet. Saxophonist Mark Turner shines throughout as does young drummer Jordan Perlson, who's just a year out of Berklee.

This is Boston-based Lupri's fourth CD overall and his second for Summit. While he may be a new musical voice to many listeners, Lupri is a mature player and strong conceptualist. It's always a treat when someone who is not yet a marquee name in jazz produces a work of such quality and startling originality—because that happenstance is so rare.

Track Listing: Sonic Prelude; Sonic; Middle Zone; The Day After; Deception; Iceland Dark; Chime Trance; Double Trouble; Prairie; Intro; Earlier Years; Sonic Reprise

Personnel: Matthias Lupri (vibraphone, electronics), Mark Turner (tenor and soprano saxophones), Cuong Vu (trumpet, electronics), Nate Radley (guitar, electronics), Thomas Kneeland (acoustic bass, electronics), Jordan Perlson (drums)

Title: Transition Sonic | Year Released: 2004 | Record Label: Summit Records

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