Markus Stockhausen & Florian Weber – Alba

alba(ECM)

We get accustomed to a few long tracks on an hour-long CD these days, but Stockhausen and Weber operate in a different way, with no fewer than 15 tracks here, some under two minutes long. The effect is like wandering through an audio-gallery of small musical sculptures, some delicate miniatures, some bolder in their impact, all exquisitely formed.

The trumpeter and pianist have been playing as a duo for six years but this is their first recording. They both compose, and there is some pretty definite writing here by the sound of it, strong melodies, striking harmonic flow, a variety of moods, some tracks including turns and twists, some content to say a single thing and say it well. But there is also a relaxed openness about the performances; they could be impromptu.

The opener is Weber’s What Can I Do For You? named after the question Weber’s first piano teacher, the late John Taylor, would ask him at the beginning of a lesson. Weber explains how he realised the question stemmed from Taylor’s ego-less nature; he feels this duo is also ego-less. The track makes a gentle introduction to the the album, the pianist strumming the piano strings behind the trumpet.

Surfboard, another Weber piece, has simultaneous left and right-hand piano improvisations which the trumpet joins almost as a subsidiary accompanist; Stockhausen’s Befreiung (Liberation) develops from a long, loping line played by both into a folky groove highly reminiscent of a 1970s Jarrett solo improvisation. Resonances places the composer’s clear, spaced trumpet lines over the gentlest of resonances from the piano strings. Die weise Zauberin is the sound of a generous, romantic and expressive gift from both men, despite its title.

The playing of both men is eloquent and their rapport suggests they get along very well. One of the most enjoyable and often happiest albums of the year so far.



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  1. 2016 Festive Fifty – 40-31 – thejazzbreakfast

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