Marco von Orelli 5

Alluring Prospect
hatOLOGY 726

Downsizing obviously isn’t an expletive for Basel-based trumpeter Marco von Orelli since he keeps shrinking his band. Starting as a nine-piece, the ensemble first recorded as a sextet, is a quintet on this disc and is now operating as a trio with bassist Kasper von Grüningen and drummer Samuel Dühsler, both of whom acquit themselves admirably here. But like the hoary aphorism that asks “how much is too much” the intercommunication exhibited here suggests that four may work as well as three and perhaps better than five.

Before tuning this into a tract on numerology the explanation is that part of the appeal of Alluring Prospect comes from the brass contrast and tonal adherence that occurs between von Orelli’s often resilient puffs and peeps and the blustery umber tones from trombonist Lukas Briggen, also a member of the Lucerne Jazz Orchestra. Pianist/synthesizer player Michael Wintsch, who also composed one of the two non-von Orelli originals on the disc – von Gruningen wrote the other –, has his own in bands such as the WHO trio with Gerry Hemingway. Like a sous chef so sophisticated in the creation of his signature dishes that his spice wizardry upsets the master chefs preparations, the undertow from Wintsch’s juddering synth processing and sophisticated pianism are notable on their own, but detract from establishing a group identity.

The rasping riffing that characterizes the Briggen-von Orelli partnership however is expressed throughout; even furrowing a groove in their individual reactions to the pianist’s “Ayako”. This same synthesis, spelled by tremolo piano lines and impacts that appear to caress the keys more than press them, is displayed on the extended “Vita”. This particular curriculum vitae proclaims that this combination of the trombonist’s rubbery plunger slurps and muted trumpet smears create an individual identity within the strictures and structures of European Jazz.

Instructively von Orelli extends this EuroJazz concept even further. Matching machine oscillations and trumpet pecks for instance lead to a baroque-like brass overlay with positioned ratamacues and some vibrating piano asides on “Boat People. The same sort of set up materializes on “Ghost Dance”, which rather than being singularly transparent is instead the most consistent instance of group identity. Imbuing his trumpet tone with a pre-modern lilt, von Orelli piles peeps, plops and pauses woodpile-like on top of one another until von Grüningen’s triple stopping and nerve beats and cymbals slaps from Dühsler bring out a full-fledged swing section leading to a satisfyingly tight ending.

Von Orelli’s modulations and motivations coupled with the others’ playing confirm why listening to this CD is in itself an alluring prospect. The added anticipation rests in wondering at what size the group will next record and what it will produce.

—Ken Waxman

Track Listing: 1. Prolog - Lisboa Days 2. Ayako 3. Monte Verita 4.Ghost Dances 5. Triptychon 6. Boat People 7. Vita

Personnel: Marco von Orelli (trumpet); Lukas Briggen (trombone); Michael Wintsch (piano and synthesizer; Kasper von Grüningen (bass) and Samuel Dühsler (drums)