Why change a winning formula? Norwegian-based Belgian pianist Jonas Cambien maintains his run of success with We Must Mustn't We, the follow-up to the excellent A Zoology of the Future (Clean Feed, 2016) by the same trio, comprising reedman Andre Roligheten and drummer Andreas Wildhagen. Cambien presents the same distinctive mixture of lurching rhythms, unusual saxophone timbres and imaginative percussive textures across a program of 12 cuts. They sound like no-one else.
Most of the tracks are short with only two exceeding the five minute mark. Of these the multipart "Swear Like A Bear" gives a flavor of the quickfire switchbacks in store with its staggered percussion, galumphing baritone saxophone and skeletal piano line, morphing into a galloping pulse, with fluttering soprano, before finally hitting an exuberant bounce with increasingly wayward piano and squalling reeds. By contrast the majority of the pieces establish a mood almost as an end in itself, like the opening "Creationism" with its lurching off-kilter rhythm, piano preparations, choked soprano sax warblings and unusual percussion sonorities. Here, as elsewhere, Wildhagen's resourcefulness and invention remains a big plus.
Trumpeter Torstein Lavik Larsen broadens the palette further on two cuts. He plays a lilting melody over the elephantine lurch of Roligheten's baritone saxophone and Cambien's prepared piano tolling on "Renaissance," and intertwines in pretty counterpoint with the reedman on "Copper Man," another of the longer cuts, which culminates in Roligheten blaring on two saxophones simultaneously for a rousing climax. Other highpoints include "You Proved Me Right" which alternates tappy staccato and skipping rhythm with bubbling tenor embellishments, and the clunky unison of "Unlikely Friendship" which opens out for a passage of plosives and squeaks from Roligheten and later finds Cambien attacking the extreme treble keys before a return to the folky tune.
There's much to savor on every cut, but it will be fascinating to see whether Cambien sticks or twists on the trio's next outing.
Track Listing: Creationism; Swear Like a Bear; Long Long; Survivalism; Crib; Renaissance; Animalism; Copper Man; I Must Mustn't I; Unlikely
Friendship; Sister, You Proved Me Right; Long Long Long.
Personnel: André Roligheten: soprano and tenor saxophone, bass clarinet, flute; Andreas Wildhagen: drums and percussion, trumpet (4);
Jonas Cambien: piano, microtonal melodica (9). Guest: Torstein Lavik Larsen trumpet (6, 8).
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