The Visible
Moserobie MMP CD 022

Mistitled, as is every aural document, THE VISIBLE is obviously not about music you can see. However the resonant voicing that make up this CD by Albert Pinton’s new quintet are mostly focused on the sonorous qualities of low-pitches. Not only does the Italian-born, Stockholm-based reedist and his band elaborate eight of his choice new compositions, but the disc showcases a set of young soloists. It’s Pinton’s finest effort yet.

With the make-up of the band — trombone, reeds, vibes, bass and drums — reminiscent of some of the 1950s West Coast experiments, there’s still enough of a sinewy pulse from bassist Torbjörn Zetterberg and drummer Jon Fält to keep the tunes away from Cool effeteness. Without a real chordal instrument furthermore, the playing of the front line is cast in even bolder relief.

Especially notable is vibist Mattias Ståhl, whose dynamic output has also been put to good use in bands led by saxist Fredrik Nordström, including one recent CD featuring Pinton. Imagine vibist Terry Gibbs guesting with a Gerry Mulligan-Bob Brookmeyer piano-less combo. Closer to raucous Roswell Rudd than suave Brookmeyer, however, is boneman Mats Äleklint, also prominent in Nordström’s Virtual Imagination Big Band and Composers Big Fun orchestra. Zetterberg leads his own so-called Hot Five, featuring saxists Per Texas Johansson and Jonas Kullhammar, while Fält works with guitarist Mattias Windemo and backed Pinton and Nordström on a recent CD.

Tunes such as “Days” and “Voices” are jaunty and genial enough. But just because they swing, doesn’t mean they pander to foot tappers. The former for instance, quickly follows its light-toned clarinet-led intro with a theme advanced by trombone and baritone saxophone. As Pinton continues blurting out theme variations, Äleklint provides chromatic skyward-heading color. Any Mulligan-Brookmeyer echoes are overlaid by the trombonist’s Rudd-y (sic) tone and the saxman’s tough timbre resemblance to Pepper Adams. Well-modulated snaps from the bass and snare smacks and bell-shaking from the drummer help introduce a new, romantic theme that concludes with a resilient and sprightly mid-tempo vibe solo on top of slowly fading horn accompaniment.

The later piece is built on polyphonic trombone and baritone intersection as well as Ståhl striking what sounds more like marimba, not vibraphone bars. As these textures come in-and-out of focus, the two hornmen go their own way with broken counterpoint, leading to glottal stops from the sax and triplet structures from the brass.

Elsewhere, contrapuntal displays of warbling trombone lines set against sluicing vibe shimmers and unruffled bari lines offset chocolately smooth themes. In other spots, Pinton sets up a chromatic trombone showcase, where the backing textures of meshed soprano clarinet, vibes and spiccato bowing sway midway between Gil Evans-like arrangements and so-called serious music. Taking full advantage Äleklint sneaks into every corners of piece, offering open bell and slide brace color, resting on top of the oscillating musical quilt.

This same kind of backing is present on “Traveller”, except here lengthy, atmospheric trombone smears, pedal point bass lines and dissonant vibe decoration are used to accompany what in other circumstances could be a reed recital. Up front, Pinton introduces pitch vibrations that move from shrill screeches to low-down, overblown obbligatos.

Another showcase is “Mirror for Contra-Alto Clarinet”, where Fält coaxes sounds from temple blocks, cymbals, triangles and drum tops as the reedman does just what the title promises. Beginning with bottom of the bow fuzz, his tongue slaps and snorts soon —but very slowly — coast to the theme. Eventually he concludes with reed squeaks, triple and flutter tonguing.

The criticism that could be leveled against this tune is that it merely stops, rather than creates a proper finale. But that’s one of the few lapses on this otherwise accomplished CD.

— Ken Waxman

Track Listing: 1. Hammerhead 2. Interference 3. Days 4. Structure #1 5. Voices 6. Traveller 7. For Them 8. Mirror for Contra-Alto Clarinet

Personnel: Mats Äleklint (trombone Alberto Pinton (baritone saxophone, soprano, bass and contra-alto clarinets); Mattias Ståhl (vibraphone); Torbjörn Zetterberg (bass); Jon Fält (drums)