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.

Personnel:

Bertrand Denzler, ts; Beno

| Record Label: Leo Records | Style: Modern Jazz


comments powered by Disqus

Shop

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

More Articles

Read This Is Beautiful Because We Are Beautiful People CD/LP/Track Review This Is Beautiful Because We Are Beautiful People
by Matthew Aquiline
Published: May 29, 2017
Read Nigerian Spirit CD/LP/Track Review Nigerian Spirit
by James Nadal
Published: May 29, 2017
Read The Colours Suite CD/LP/Track Review The Colours Suite
by Glenn Astarita
Published: May 29, 2017
Read Les Liasons Dangereuses 1960 CD/LP/Track Review Les Liasons Dangereuses 1960
by Mark Corroto
Published: May 29, 2017
Read Chapter Five CD/LP/Track Review Chapter Five
by Jack Bowers
Published: May 28, 2017
Read The Hive CD/LP/Track Review The Hive
by Edward Blanco
Published: May 28, 2017
Read "The Traveller's Tale" CD/LP/Track Review The Traveller's Tale
by Roger Farbey
Published: March 17, 2017
Read "Flowers" CD/LP/Track Review Flowers
by John Sharpe
Published: November 23, 2016
Read "Sektion 1-2" CD/LP/Track Review Sektion 1-2
by Mark Corroto
Published: December 21, 2016
Read "Möbius Strip" CD/LP/Track Review Möbius Strip
by Roger Farbey
Published: May 11, 2017
Read "Blow + Beat" CD/LP/Track Review Blow + Beat
by Karl Ackermann
Published: April 8, 2017
Read "I Walk Amongst Humans" CD/LP/Track Review I Walk Amongst Humans
by Nicholas F. Mondello
Published: August 3, 2016

Why wait?

Support All About Jazz and we'll deliver exclusive content, hide ads, hide slide-outs, and provide read access to our future articles.

Buy it!