There's a usual time-tested path so many musicians go through in their early phases: learn how to play, take examples from one's favorites or influences, continue absorbing the elements and mechanics of what they do, then take some time processing all those things and (hopefully) eventually spinning them into one's own voice or style. At the same time there's the concurrent matter of developing technical skills in order to decide how much or little to use them.
Marie Kruttli seems to be nearing the end of that sequence at an impressive age with What Do I Miss. You can unmistakably hear some Herbie Hancock in her post-bop feel (the overall vibe is sometimes suggestive of the second great Miles Davis quintet in general), crossed with a classical harmonic sense that borrows from the likes of Debussy, all in a blend of timeless New York City sophistication and classic club swing. Interesting influences all, but it holds together well enough in the end that the EP mostly satisfies on its own merits.
Kruttli's kaledoscopic chordings are finely honed without getting too flashy or tricky for comfort; the appeal in these songs lies more in the ensemble playing and the way different instruments weave together. The piano and horns equally share leads in front as often as not, making her offbeat melody lines flow as smoothly as a glass of your favorite stout, and the rhythm section percolates behind them with a restless sense of fun. "I Shouldn't Care" slots their parts into jagged counterpoint beats before breaking down into some odd angular harmonics, while "Hagen" subsequently drops the beat entirely for a meditative love song of the abstract kind.
That centerpiece is more successful than the meandering title track at the close, though both could use a bit more focus. Nonetheless, the compositions as a whole show an encouragingly restless writing voice with a sharp swinging ensemble to back it up. Taken together, it all suggests we're only seeing the start of an interesting and very colorful career.
A Very Agressive Person; I Shouldn't Care; Hagen; I Hate Dogs; What Do I Miss.
Marie Kruttli: piano; Francesco Heminiani: tenor saxophone; Cody Rowlands: trumpet; Devin Starks: double bass; Jonathan Barber: drums.
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