Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for 1,000 backers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

76

Bertrand Denzler Cluster: Y?

Robert Spencer By

Sign in to view read count
I put this one on, and I thought, "Hmmm. Unusual instrumentation. Vibes? Marimba? Xylophone? And what's that? Synthesizer? Or some other kind of electronic thingy?" Turns out to be a prepared piano, a la John Cage's groundbreaking sonatas of the late Forties, and here masterfully deployed by Benoît Delbecq, who also plays a standard piano. But the prepared piano has a fascinating and much-varied sound, aided by the bass of Hélène Labarrière, who so intertwines with it that together they do often sound electronically generated. But this is acoustic music, of a singular and original kind.

The headliner is, of course, tenor saxophonist Bertrand Denzler, who starts off on the emblematic "Y?", the longest track, in middle gear, heats up to a fiery multiphonic boil, and then gives way to more vibes-like prepared piano. Ultimately Delbecq becomes difficult to distinguish from percussionist Norbert Pfammatter, whose jingles and jangles intersect not only with the piano sounds but with Labarrière's percussive plucking. In the ensuing and strange polyphonic soundscape one voice is difficult to distinguish from another; even Denzler contributes a percussive blast. Gradually an arch and haunted melody asserts itself, with a sly and brooding rhythm. Delbecq switches to ordinary piano in this section without altering the mood significantly. The heat returns gradually, with Denzler improvising with a jagged and effective cross-rhythmic sense.

The rest of the disc is an extrapolation of various elements that already show up in the sprawling "Y?". The frenetic "Trash" is less effective than the lengthy "Weird," which is quite mesmerizing as a kind of menacing 3AM ballad. Delbecq is on conventional piano, and acts as Denzler's chief foil, while the tenor man blows more sweetly than before. (On "Now," the following track, Denzler's fleetness even recalls Sonny Rollins on classic finger pieces like "B. Quick.") There is a bass/drums solo in the middle that somewhat saps the energy of the piece (the two rhythm players are better at the beginning of "Now"), but Denzler ably reestablishes the same gritty somnambulance as before.

An excellent disc.


Title: Y? | Year Released: 1999 | Record Label: Leo Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

CD/LP/Track Review
Multiple Reviews
CD/LP/Track Review
  • Y? by Robert Spencer
  • Y? by Glenn Astarita
Read more articles

More Articles

Read Formidable CD/LP/Track Review Formidable
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: November 24, 2017
Read Cochonnerie CD/LP/Track Review Cochonnerie
by John Sharpe
Published: November 24, 2017
Read Threes CD/LP/Track Review Threes
by Glenn Astarita
Published: November 24, 2017
Read Smoke CD/LP/Track Review Smoke
by Joe Gatto
Published: November 24, 2017
Read Acknowledgement CD/LP/Track Review Acknowledgement
by Don Phipps
Published: November 23, 2017
Read Lessons And Fairytales CD/LP/Track Review Lessons And Fairytales
by Jerome Wilson
Published: November 23, 2017
Read "Someone Else" CD/LP/Track Review Someone Else
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: July 27, 2017
Read "Akua's Dance" CD/LP/Track Review Akua's Dance
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 21, 2017
Read "Shamat" CD/LP/Track Review Shamat
by Ian Patterson
Published: November 16, 2017
Read "I Am" CD/LP/Track Review I Am
by Geno Thackara
Published: November 13, 2017
Read "Desire & Freedom" CD/LP/Track Review Desire & Freedom
by Mark Corroto
Published: December 14, 2016
Read "Stinger" CD/LP/Track Review Stinger
by Joe Gatto
Published: January 22, 2017

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Please support out sponsor