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Christoph Siegrist: Welcome To The Blue World

Dan Bilawsky By

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Trumpeter Christoph Siegrist's Blue World is not the world of the blues. Instead, the Swedish-born horn man populates this realm with songs that expand the modern language of jazz by using solid, yet moving, rhythmic tides and angular horn lines that join together or swoop around one another. Siegrist's primary partner in crime is tenor saxophonist Mark Turner, and both men often work their way through the heads of these songs in rhythmic unison, while fleshing out some interesting intervals between their horns. This pair sounds most comfortable together when delivering long, stretched lines ("NWE" and "Green Traveler"), but they also succeed with restless, agitated, zigzagging dialog ("Frelon Brun").

Bassist Massimo Biolcati, best known for his work with guitar sensation Lionel Loueke, is the stabilizing force throughout the album. His bass hook on the album opener, "Columbus," serves as a signpost while others go exploring, and his exotic/hypnotic bass serves as the foundation during the first few minutes of the title track. Pianist Aruan Ortiz and drummer Richie Barshay are the chameleons in this group, blending in and playing the right roles at the right times. Ortiz moves effortlessly between liquid piano greetings and clean, mellow Rhodes work on "NWE," and he's at the center of one of the most interactive segments of music, during his solo, on "Layers." Barshay is equally comfortable wearing different hats, as demonstrated by his percussion and cymbal coloring on the title track and his ability to lay down the law at the outset of "Frelon Brun."

Siegrist shows a certain fondness for Miles Davis, as he includes two of the legendary trumpeter's compositions in the program, but his tone is rarely Davis-like. While both men eschew the upper register in favor of moodier, middle register lines, Siegrist tends to have a stretched sound that differs from Davis. Strangely enough, the most overt nod to Davis comes not with the two pieces he wrote, but with the opening minutes of the title track. Siegrist plays snake charmer, delivering moody, Davis-like lines, while Biolcati holds it together. "Frelon Brun" calls to the spirit of that transitional period when Davis' classic '60s quintet was on its way out and the trumpeter was moving on again, but Siegrist manages to make this his own.

"Half Nelson," which closes out the album, is delivered with spirit and precision, and, along with "The Third Ear," proves to be one Siegrist's most straight-ahead performances. While it ends the album in an odd way, since it's stylistically out of place next to this modern leaning material, it's a fine demonstration of Siegrist's ability to work in a different manner. Welcome To The Blue World proves to be a fine example of forward-looking jazz that signals the arrival of a new trumpet talent.

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