Among the crop of new releases from the audacious and very much avant-garde Leo Lab records is something by a band, which calls itself “Bertrand Denzler Cluster”. Y? was recorded live on 2 tracks by Radio DRS at Jazzfestival Schaffhausen, Switzerland, May 4, 1998.
Tenor saxophonist Bertrand Denzler along with his Quartet are at times fiercely energetic, loud, dissonant or serve up kaleidoscopic-like interludes and conversational group interplay. The title track and opener “Y?” clocks in at 21 minutes and is fairly up front and in your face. Denzler’s ferocious yet brazen tenor work may be an acquired taste for some; however, his flexibility shows via excursions into temperate passages which offer up wide ranging tonalities and breadth. Bassist Helene Labarriere and drummer/percussionist Norbert Plammatter work well, nailing down the often-complex time signatures. Plammater’s effective utilization of small percussion instruments often compliment Benoit Delbecq’s occasional use of the “prepared piano” especially during the “conversational” episodes. Needless to say, there’s quite a bit of ebb and flow throughout this recording. “Weird” runs the gamut from hard blowing, circular movement and features fine textured piano work from Delbecq.
By and large Y? is an intense, no nonsense affair which for the most part leans towards the free-jazz side of things. This band is also liable to swing and swing hard... well, not in the traditional sense.......yet Denzler’s Cluster perform with conviction, fire and sure-handed determination. It shows! * * * ½.
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