On Wheel of Time, saxophonist Javier Vercher (Spain) and drummer Ferenc Nemeth (Hungary) produce music that teems with creativity as musicians, instruments, and free ideas coalesce. The debut, Introducing The Javier Vercher Trio (Fresh Sound, 2005), aptly acquainted listeners to the young and prodigious saxophonist; whereas Nemeth has contributed his deft drumming to a number of recordings including guitarist Lionel Loueke's Virgin Forest (ObliqSound, 2006).
The two are a part of a growing number of young musicians that embrace their heritages but are creating new traditions of global influences into music that is their own. They also enlist the help of longtime associate guitarist Lionel Loueke (Senegal) who has made an impact in the U.S. and abroad on many recordings. These varied origins and talents all have an impact.
The vibe is somewhat reminiscent of Charles Lloyd/Billy Higgins' transcendent recording Which Way Is East (ECM, 2004), as two musicians connect in a freely expressive way to create more than just a typical recording. The setting is simple: saxophone, drums/percussion, and occasional guitar; but the results are profound and from the start it's clear that this is something different.
"Introduction has an aboriginal/Native American quality combining exotic percussion and tarouj (traditional bamboo flute). Next is "Second Chance, an up-tempo number featuring Loueke's unique playing style as Vercher's muscular tenor works the melody while Nemeth animatedly engages his kit. The duo selections are well conceived and show the full scope of each musician's potential on "Andy's Song, as Vercher spirited lines soothe while Nemeth feverishly plays hand and traditional drums. Thunderous mallets and showering cymbals are completely balanced with Vercher's thoughtful and throaty sounds on "Tabarka, a tune that has a timeless quality.
The music sounds as if it was recorded in different parts of the world. "Broken Shadows has a Latin/Gypsy quality and "Als - Berebers del Sud a haunting Middle Eastern rhythm where the instruments' voices dance and sing to authentic and gripping rhythms. The title 'Wheel Of Time is the showpiece and seems to breathe. Its circuitous pattern lingers with an almost spiritual qualityNemeth drumming is the heartbeat, girded by a Loueke's repeated chords, while Vercher's tenor soars then descends to a mere whisper.
The recording ends appropriately with "Where Everything is Music with sampled sounds of running water, flute, percussion, acoustic guitar, and a prose reading by poet Chip Taylor. This recording is cerebral, peculiar yet grounded, and would take the listener on a most pleasant journey.