Ferenc Nemeth bursts onto the jazz scene with his second release as a leader. Triumph is the follow-up to his lyrical, more reserved debut Night Songs(Dreamers Collective 2007), and finds the Hungarian-born drummer in the company of a superb quartet including his boss in the Gilfema trio, guitarist Lionel Loueke.
Where Night Songs bore the heavy influence of Loueke's approach to ethnic fusion, Triumph is unique in its mix of styles that seamlessly blend into a gem of a record. There is the wistfully beautiful "Sorrow And Wishful Thinking," where Nemeth's percussive beats match saxophonist Joshua Redman's eastern reed/flute-like soprano saxophone. Its sensitive lyricism contrasts perfectly with the propulsive energy of "Joy," with its intricate and insistent drumming and Loueke's sinewy, blues-tinged playing.
Nemeth exhibits a rare combination of exhilarating élan and harmonic creativity, often in the same tune. The title track exhibits an undercurrent of soulful and funky rhythms buoying meandering and modal solos; a spicy and dark mixture of the visceral and the intellectual, which is Nemeth's gratifying musical signature.
Pianist Kenny Werner's intelligent and lilting lines weave around the woodwinds of the spiritual "Longing" in abstract yet accessible patterns. The laidback "Purpose" features his smart and crackling note clusters brewing with Nemeth's contemplative tonal colors and Redman's bright and acerbically yearning saxophone.
Although the entire album is an amalgamation of preset concepts and spontaneous ingenuity the interludes are sheer extemporized delights. Loueke's nocturnal serenade on "Interlude I" is like a flamenco song, melancholic and bewitching, while the drums and tenor sax duet of "Interlude II" is an earthy and stimulating dance. "Interlude III" finds Nemeth exploring the full melodic potential of his drum set, channeling an inner Max Roach, while "Interlude IV" is an ethereal piano sonata.
With Triumph, Nemeth makes a bold and exquisite statement that showcases his sublime talents as a composer, improviser, drummer and bandleadera statement that will surely stand the test of time.
Intro; Triumph; Interlude I; Purpose; Interlude II; Joy; Interlude III; Longing; Hope; Interlude IV; Sorrow And Wishful Thinking; Hope II.
Joshua Redman: tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone; Kenny Werner: piano, Rhodes; Lionel Loueke: guitar, vocals; Ferenc Nemeth: drums; JuampiDi Leone: vocals; Carlos Michelini: clarinet; Martin Pantyrer: bass clarinet, baritone saxophone; Richard Nant: trumpet, flugelhorn; Maria Noel Luzardo: bassoon.