COLLECTIVE 4TET

Moving along
Leo CD LR 418

Collective still as far as leadership is involved, this Swiss-American foursome seems to be MOVING ALONG on its newest CD with increased prominence for the trombonist and pianist.

Not that the role of the bassist and percussionist is reduced to that of accompaniment. When the 4tet features one of the most cohesive rhythm sections on either side of the Atlantic – Zürich-based percussionist Heinz Geisser, who works with Swiss pianist Guerino Mazzola and New York bassist William Parker, who plays with literally everyone – that’s impossible. But the two longer of the three lengthy tracks here appear more like a trombone-piano dialogue than other entries by this quartet.

Both New Yorkers, trombonist Jeff Hoyer and pianist Mark Hennen move in the same circles and play with many of the same people – Hoyer with pianist Cecil Taylor and reedist Sabir Mateen and Hennen with drummer William Hooker and Mateen.

“Drawing from the pool” and the title track, both of which clock in around the 18-minute mark, are built on the pianist’s patterning which ranges from internal cadences and pseudo-bebop lines to high frequency pedal pressure plus the trombonist’s plunger exploration. On both, buzzing lip expansions plus rising and falling cavernous ‘bone growls move in one line, while the piano – and at other points the bass and drums –

move in another. Occasionally, the results sound like a piano trio playing a club gig, while next door a trombonist is practicing. While the textures intersect, Hoyer’s rubato exercises are never so detached that they interrupt the polyphonic cohesion of the four. By the end of “Drawing from the pool” for instance, the tonal centre expands with both foreground players speed augmenting, Hennen’s touch becoming more intense and Hoyer’s output turning higher-pitched with shredded vibrations.

Here and on the title track, Parker and Geisser keep things together, with the bassist often relying on double-stopped repetitive pizzicato and the drummer ruffs and bounces. Midway through this piece however, Hoyer’s half-valve effects – including tapered notes and repeated chest tones – cause Hennen to pile chord upon chord into his congruent solo, while launching prestissimo vibrations at the same time. Decelerating to single grace notes the dynamics of the tune sprawl through agitato to moderato to zart.

Slower and more impressionistic than the other two, the less-than-four-minute “sí en sí” includes more upfront contributions from Parker and Geisser. The bassist partners the pianist’s step-by-step key action with arco squeals, and the percussionist diffuses this arco color still further with bell shaking resonation and hollow wood block strokes.

Eventually sonorous bass lines occupy the bottom sonic, chiming piano notes take up the top and Hoyer slides out resplendent middle tones. Octave-rich, the pianist’s contrasting dynamics jounces against atonality in the final minutes, supported by pressured stops from the bass. Climatically, almost finger-picked right-hand action from Hennen meld with Geisser’s low drum rumble and Parker’s minimalist arco movement to resolve the instant composition’s different components

A fine effort by all concerned.

— Ken Waxman

Track Listing: 1. Drawing from the pool 2. Moving along 3. sí en sí

Personnel: Jeff Hoyer (trombone); Mark Hennen (piano); William Parker (bass); Heinz Geisser (percussion)