Philipp Gerschlauer / David Fiuczynski — Mikrojazz! - Neue Expressionistische Musik
(RareNoise RNR083, 2017, CD)
by Jon Davis, Published 2017-10-28
Last year saw the release of David Fiuczynski’s second album of microtonal jazz with global influences and collaborators. Flam! Blam! Pan-Asian MicroJam! was both a fascinating exercise and a musical success, and with MikroJazz! he presents another installment of the use of microtonal scales in jazz. This time out, his primary collaborator is German saxophonist Philipp Gerschlauer, who has developed techniques for playing microtones on his instruments. The rest of the ensemble consists of Matt Garrison (fretless bass), Jack DeJohnette (drums), and Giorgi Mikadze (microtonal keyboards). This album lacks the “Pan-Asian” flavor of its predecessor, opting instead for something closer to standard jazz instrumentation, though of course the microtonal melodies give it a flavor that is sometimes quite distinctive. Three of the tonal instruments here (saxophone, guitar, and fretless bass) are capable of minute variations in pitch outside the even-tempered scale, and we’ve all heard them do so in improvised solos — even a fretted guitar can bend strings to intervals off the even-tempered scale. But hearing them do so as deliberate parts of the main melodies is unusual, and would probably just sound like out-of-tune playing if it weren’t done so consistently and by multiple instruments in unison. The other distinctive factor here is Mikadze’s keyboards, which sometimes sound very different from normal instruments. He also makes extensive use of the pitch-bend wheel on his synth, which is not something you expect to hear on an electric piano sound. I suppose some listeners might be put off, unable to adjust to the different pitches, but most of the time, I find it refreshing. It’s kind of like encountering a completely new flavor in food, say the numbing taste of Sichuan peppers, and being put off by it at first, then coming to love it. I’m not sure I want it in every dish, but it is wonderful once you’re accustomed to it.
Jon Christensen RIP – Word reaches us today of the passing of Norwegian drummer Jon Christensen, a musician whose sensitive playing did much to help define the atmospheric sound of ECM jazz recordings. His work with Jan Garbarek, Bobo Stenson, Terje Rypdal, and many more was sensitive and varied, adapting to a wide variety of styles while maintaining a distinct identity of its own. Christensen was 76. » Read more
Gong Announces UK Tour for 2020 – Having spent the last few years touring the world, including dates in Japan with psych legend Steve Hillage, multiple headline European tours and festivals, America’s Cruise to the Edge festival, a South America headline tour, and a headline performance at Tomorrow Festival in China, the band have won the hearts of both traditional and modern Gong fanbases. During this live journey, Gong has delved further into the truly psychedelic, exploratory, and mind-expanding side of the music. » Read more
Wolfgang Dauner RIP – Pianist Wolfgang Dauner, one of the pioneers of both European free jazz and jazz rock, has died at the age of 84. With his own groups and with the United Jazz+Rock Ensemble, his playing and compositions were a prominent presence in European jazz from the mid-60s until just recently. » Read more
Michael Allison RIP – Michael Allison, who since 1997 has been recording as Darshan Ambient, passed away on January 9th after a long and brave battle with cancer. He has been at at the forefront of the new ambient/electronic music scene, with over eighteen releases to his credit. » Read more