The Alliteration

The Alliteration
Creative Sources CS 265 CD

Gimmicky, in that that each of the seven track titles on the CD is alliterative as are the names of the seven performers, but The Alliteration band members prove their seriousness performing carefully balanced Jazz-based instant compositions. Such is the looseness that the seven bring to the interpretations though, that the polyphonic results relate as much to the free-for-all of a Dixieland party as the arch seriousness of Ascension.

Berlin-based, each band member is part of that city’s cross-cultural gestalt. At least four countries are represented as well. Trumpeter Nikolaus Neuser, saxophonist Manuel Miethe and drummer Maurice de Martin are German; trombonist Gerhard Gschlössl Austrian, bassist Akira Ando Japanese and clarinetist Floros Floridis and pianist Antonis Anissegos, Greek. Each has played with several of the others in many contexts and because of this brings to the mix their experience with film-scoring dynamics, formal notated music and folkloric explorations. Segues are as frequent as they are unexpected. Often reed choruses of yelps, clips and flutters are succeeded by stentorian string motifs that could add ballast to a philharmonic recital, with those motifs then followed by go-for-broke extended techniques invested with deadly seriousness. Other times the interface opens up into near-hedonistic swing as joyful and heedless as fanciful rhythm exercises. What cements the parts together however is the perceptive interlocking of theme with invention.

“Cypher Circle Song” and “Dark Diphthong”, which follow one another, couldn`t be more different in exposition, yet each leaves a sense of a thought completed when finished. The latter, for instance, is cacophonous commotion in which each man appears hell-bent on showing how many uncommon note patterns can be shoved into the tune before it detonates. Eventually though, brass plunger blats and staccato bites from the other horns are soon rearranged into notable cohesion following smoothing glissandi from Anissegos. If “Dark Diphthong” relates to late-period Coltrane, then “Cypher Circle Song” could have been welcomed at an Eddie Condon after-hours jam session. Cheerily optimistic, when Gschlössl’s tailgate blats or Floridis’ sinuous flutters are heard, they suture obdurate parts as much as they shock. Concentrated swaying vibrations create a clam, bouncy interface throughout, although Miethe’s circular-breathing sequence suggests that someone familiar with Evan Parker’s reed advances could have been gigging in a Trad Jazz context, if the Moldy Figs weren’t so change resistant.

Change may be one of the leitmotifs of The Alliteration – the album and the band – but so is restraint. Every individual instance of breath-taking instrumental extension – and there are many– is ultimately subordinated to chamber-music-like discipline. Neither solo smarts nor cascading climaxes are downplayed, but at every critical junction, the supremacy of group creation is emphasized.

This CD was recorded in mid-2011. It’s time for a new one to see how the ensemble has progressed sonically – with or without linguistic gimmicks.

—Ken Waxman

Track Listing: 1. Aural Altitude 2. Being Between 3. Cypher Circle Song 4. Dark Diphthong 5. Equal Equals Equal 6. Fertile Fossils 7. Gelbgold Gambit

Personnel: Nikolaus Neuser (trumpet, flugelhorn and piccolo trumpet); Gerhard Gschlössl (trombone); Floros Floridis (clarinet and bass clarinet); Manuel Miethe (soprano saxophone); Antonis Anissegos (piano); Akira Ando (bass) and Maurice de Martin (drums)