October 11, 2014
Mark Alban Lotz
LopLop Llr 041
By Ken Waxman
Add to the very short list of flute virtuosi like James Newton, Robert Dick and the late Paul Horn who can single-handed animate a recital, the name of German-born, Netherlands-based Mark Alban Lotz. Lotz who plays jazz, notated and so-called world music, sets up the17 tracks on this CD to showcase his prowess on bass, alto and even PVC tube-flute, without overdubs or loops, but using a touch of reverb and delay.
The flautist’s lip, mouth and breath command is such that the absorbing sounds recall Horn’s Inside the Great Pyramid ethereal whispers, Rahsaan Roland Kirk’s juicy blowing, west coast jazz swing and chamber intermezzos, as well instrument-sourced nonsense vocalizing midway between the Fugs and South Park’s Terrance and Phillip. Impishly, the brief “Do Not Swallow” sounds as if Lotz’s instrument is lodged above his larynx so that fowl-like squawks issue from it. Joking aside, tracks such as “PVC Mantra” illuminate Lotz’s prodigious technique with calming flute lines, a vocal hum and a tuba-like growl exposed simultaneously as part of a processional theme.
Solo Flutes is much more than a mechanical exercise forcing harsh air through metallic pipes however. “Why Not Take All” for instance, may begin with a whirring combination of screaming and blowing, but ends with a harmonically appealing jazzy cadenza. “A Fine Winter”, which may or may not salute Paul Winter, moves with a be-boppy lilt that resembles a cool jazz take on the American songbook. “For Rahsaan” is another finger-snapping swinger during which Lotz accurately replicates Kirk’s percussive bluster. And “Whole Steps”, which suggests “Giant Steps”, find the flutist shouting out buoyantly as he elaborates on Trane-like sound layering.
Besides the croaks, cries and technical extensions two other tunes confirm Lotz’s sonic triumphs here. The languid “Major Circles” could slip unnoticed into any contemporary music recital as the flutist outlines the melody then plays variations on it. More jazz-like, “Dear Moth” builds a circular collection of bass flute whorls and whirls into theme variations that expand the narrative while throat humming and key percussion act as accompaniment.
What Lotz plays may not be pure jazz or pure-anything. But his skill and versatility should attract lots of attention.
Tracks: Albert Speaks; Aş Şahra Ash Sharqīyah; Whole Steps; Hungry III; PVC Mantra; Dear Moth; Why Not Take All?; Piccolo for Makeba; Adam And Eva; Whisper Alap; Do Not Swallow; Major Circles; The Fish On The Dry; For Rahsaan; Kazoo Track; Inside; A Fine Winter
Personnel: Mark Alban Lotz: concert flute; alto flute; bass flute; PVC contrabass flute; prepared flute; voice
—For The New York City Jazz Record October 2014