System for Us

WhyPlayJazz WP J047

A new name, at least as far as the world improvising community is concerned, is alto saxophonist Mark Weschenfelder, whose most recent CD is a seven-track suite for septet, that infers Rock and notated music sensibilities, but with a firm grounding in Jazz. Neuhaus am Rennweg-born Weschenfelder, who arranged all the tunes and composed all but one track, uses the sonic contradictions implicit in blending trombone, guitar, bass, drums, two flutes and his own reeds for maximum flexibility. The end product is reminiscent of sophisticated East and West coast Jazz experiments of the 1950s.

“Kein Unisono (Intro)” and “Kein Unisono” are perhaps the ultimate band showpieces with the first’s spectral echoes via flutists Paul Berberich and Vincent Bababoutilabo resembling sounds arising from a sped-up tape deck before the main theme arrives. As high-energy orchestral tones crackle and cross over one another, chiming judders from guitarist Joachim Wespel that shake and slash to almost Hendrix-like proportions and drum patterns from Florian Lauer challenge the flutes’ melodic formalism. Angular string clips and repeated drum paradiddles continue to energize the theme. However nearly opaque arrangements dominate many of the other tracks. For instance “The daX” features repeated textures and sinewy pulse that are only disrupted by triple-tongued alto saxophone fluttering and a brass exposition from trombonist Adrian Kleinlosen. But the real balance sheet judgment on the concept is “Zustände”, which builds up with little release. Beginning with atmospheric scene-setting the sequence unfolds as plunger trombone slurs, clanking guitar twangs and interconnected drum beats reach a crescendo and then break apart into a moderato ambulatory line. Prodded by bassist Andris Meinig the motif eventually fades among drum rumbles and string flanges.

Luckily, the extended “Unisono I, II, III” provides counterbalance to this, with electrified 1970s-style Jazz-Funk shards that are twanged from the guitar and popped from the drum set/ Still, this exposition is abruptly cut off for a split-tone alto solo until high-pitch flute tonal emphasis frame the canny descending harmonies, with a plump drum dump as the ending.

Confirming his skills as composer and arranger Weschenfelder has apparently frequently recorded before this. If Zwitschhermaschine is an indication of his mature musical concepts, then it’s obvious that his skills and those of this septet should be appreciated past Germany’s borders.

—Ken Waxman

Track Listing: 1. Miniatur 2. Zustände 3. Unisono I, II, III 4. Kein Unisono (Intro) 5. Kein Unisono 6. The daX 7. Hocket

Personnel: Adrian Kleinlosen (trombone); Mark Weschenfelder (alto saxophone, clarinet); Paul Berberich (flute); Vincent Bababoutilabo (flute, alto flute); Joachim Wespel (guitar); Andris Meinig (bass) and Florian Lauer (drums)