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Chris Wiesendanger Quartet: Urban Village

Dan McClenaghan By

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The title of the disc, Urban Village evokes, what? Maybe some funk grooves, drum loops, seismic bass lines. But this is something different altogether. A quartet outing, Mark Turner's tenor sax and the rhythm section, on a laid-back session of languid, probing sounds that bring to mind Miles Davis's '58 Sessions more than anything else.

The opener, "Salvador" sounds like a cross between Miles and crew's "On Green Dolphin Street" and the (on that particular record) Latin flavored "Love for Sale".

Chris Wiesendanger is a swiss pianist—hooked up with three American bandmates here—with a light touch, in the manner of a Bill Evans. Wiesendanger composed six of the seven tunes on Urban Village. Pensive, probing songs, languid in execution—and Mark Turner, who's Dharma Days CD came out last year, sounds fantastic, with a delicate tone this go-around (like he's been listening to some Joe Henderson)that fits Wiesendanger's tunes perfectly.

"Chris W's "Folk Song" has an Ornette Coleman feel to it, with the tenor and piano playing an Ornette/Don Cherry cat and mouse with each other; a nicely-done ensemble piece; that's the mood of the entire CD; the compositions are (deservedly)in the forefront, rather than the solist out in front of the band project.

A very good jazz performance that gets great, transcendent even, with the last fifteen minutes/three tunes—almost a suite: "Shunyata I", Coltrane's "After the Rain", and "Shunyata II". Shunyata means emptiness—the void—in Japanese. The song is spare, full of space and fragile, exquisite notes. Coltrane's "After the Rain" was the perfect song to sandwich between the two Shunyata's. An awakening, Wiesendanger playing a gentle storm, Turner blowing open the petals of a small wildflower at the ending, as the piano lets fall the droplets collected in the branches above. Then "Shunyata II", like the slow unfolding of an abstract origami...

Marvelous!

www.freshsoundsrecords.com

Title: Urban Village | Year Released: 2002


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