Mark Solborg/Anders Banke/Bjørn Heebøll

Angels
ILK 321 CD

A.R.K.

Music By Endangered Species

JazzHausMusik JHM 281 CD

Stripped down trios of reeds, guitar and percussion work through intertwined interpretations. The nine tracks on one create an interlocking ambient mood that express originals or interpretations in languid counterpoint. With shifting emphasis expressed through diffuse meters and frequent woodwind substitution though, the originals on the other CD evoke jubilant rhythmic fluidity.

All composed by A.R.K.’s Andreas Kaling, Music By Endangered Species’ 11 tunes use his bass saxophone lowing to substitute for double bass rhythm as well as to solo when not playing soprano saxophone or bass clarinet. Other members of this all-German trio slant their responses in unexpected way. While maintain a driving backbeat, drummer Karl Godejohann projects slaps, swishes and shuffles with hands, brushes and sticks for non-standard inferences and downplayed beat flexing. Committed to the acoustic guitar, Reinhold Westerheide finds that repetition and pressure from clanging strokes and twangs provide both the suppleness and strength needed for pinpointed expression. Working out cohesion from the first tune “Farben des Himmels” with its nursery rhyme-like melody interrupted by bouzouki-like clangor from Westerheide and Kaling’s chalumeau blowing continues all the way to Godejohann’s showpiece on the concluding “The Sun Rises, where he alternates between conga-like hand drumming, rim-shot emphasis and rhythmic hand claps. However emphasis throughout is on affiliated story-telling not individual affectation. Rotating strategies including drum clip-clops, string frails and reed tongue stops propelling the continuum, though individualism bolsters the ambulating excitement. This includes clarion bass clarinet squirms and flutters on “Dancin' in the Streets”; and a transformative final change to Jazz-like swing on “As If It Always Has Been a Part of Me”. This follows the tune’s near-Carnatic introduction as guitar detuning sounding like a sitar, mridangam-like pulses, and ottu-like treble peeps from the drummer and reedist. With some tracks speeding up from adagio to allegro to presto, A.R.K. also demonstrates it can maintain motion and connection at many tempos. “And You Leave in the Mid of Night” is a particular instance, since as the track accelerates door-stopper ricochets and chain rattling from Godejohann and Kaling sub-basement honks confirm the players’ identities, even as these unexpected interjections move the tune along.

Excluding adagio elaborations when they reconfigure a couple of Thelonious Monk lines, Solborg, Banke and Heebøll, all Danes, are more concerned with interweaving moods and melodies then projecting good-time rhythms. Not that the three, who have worked with many international innovators can’t do so. It just doesn’t fit this game plan. For an instance of that, there’s “Mr. y OSO’, a jokey contrafact of “Misterioso”, where the thick crunches could come from Neil Peart; the fluid slap and slide string twists from Blood Ulmer; and the tenor sax snarls from Johnny Griffin. But true to its ethereal title Angels usually hovers in different directions. With rounded depth, synergy expressed among the trio members often takes the form of broken octave elaborations, with poised cymbal taps, ripened reed vibrations and tangy guitar strums. There’s vitality within the eiderdown however, as demonstrated on tracks such as “Early Morning Bell” and “Another Bastard”. The former harmonizes finger-style guitar breaks and woody chalumeau puffs from the bass clarinet to personify breaking dawn, while the latter manages to evoke Paul Desmond and Jim Hall duets via clarion sax slides and focused string comping, yet drum rattle confirm that the theme is more than lightweight. Probably the strongest indication of the trio’s covert strength is the recasting of the Albert Ayler-composed title tune. Featuring broken chord call-and-response among reed shrills, pinpointed guitar strokes and drum clattering, the three make the exposition sway up and down as well as thrusting it forward. The result is a reconfiguration of the narrative as a gentler piece that retains the vitality of the original.

Seemingly true to the shape and instrumentation of Chamber Jazz, both ensembles transcend its limitations to offer more wide-ranging programs.

—Ken Waxman

Track Listing: Endangered: 1. Farben des Himmels 2. Careful 3. And the Lady Shaves Her Legs 4. Dancin' in the Streets 5. Question Mark? 6. As If It Always Has Been a Part of Me 7. When Strength is in Your Eyes 8. The Sun 9. And You Leave in the Mid of Night 10. Das Inselschloss 11. The Sun Rises

Personnel: Endangered: Andreas Kaling (bass and soprano saxophones and bass clarinet); Reinhold Westerheide (acoustic guitar) and Karl Godejohann (drums)

Track Listing: Angels: 1. Den 7. Dag 2. Rigors Remain 3. Early Morning Bells 4. Mr. y OSO 5. Another Bastard 6. Angels 7. Crepuscule with Nellie 8. Longsome 9. Harvest Breed

Personnel: Angels: Anders Banke (tenor saxophone and bass clarinet); Mark Solborg (guitar) and Bjørn Heebøll (drums and percussion)