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Julie Sassoon Quartet: Voyages review – the sound of a fascinating original | Jazz

The enforced confinement of 2020 spurred Julie Sassoon to mud off and launch an impressed however long-shelved solo improv recording, If You Can’t Go Exterior… Go Inside. Later that yr, in a hole between lockdowns, she and her long-running quartet made this buzzing and conversational set. In these starkly contrasting tasks, the Manchester-born Berlin-based pianist/composer gave the impression to be mirroring the interval’s swerves between isolation and goals of shared life.

Sassoon is a fascinating original, her piano world inhabited by Keith Jarrett’s lyricism and driving hooks and Steve Reich’s minimalism, however maybe most importantly, the sources she has been accumulating by means of collaborations with unorthodox jazz and modern classical improvisers since the Nineties.

Julie Sassoon Quartet: Voyages album cover
Julie Sassoon Quartet: Voyages album cowl

The quartet – with saxophonist Lothar Ohlmeier, her long-time musical and life companion, and the highly effective bass/drums pairing of Meinrad Kneer and Rudi Fischerlehner – toured Europe in February 2020, then went on to file these headlong but lucidly eloquent originals in a Cologne studio that November. The bumpy, darting Missed Calls joins Ohlmeier’s squalling Albert Ayleresque tenor sax clamours to oompah-rhythm chug and useless halts. It typically remembers the sardonic vaudevillian mashups of the Netherlands’ Immediate Composers Pool or Willem Breuker’s Kollektief, albeit subtly juxtaposed with Sassoon’s keyboard ruminations, her mandolin-like trills and gentle chording.

Dissonantly rapturous bowed-bass passages flip to bleary low-lights smooches after which to free-sax blusters: Waltz With Me begins in a warmly open triplet sway however turns into a duck-and-dive group improv chatter; the meditative, tiptoeing tone-poem Jerusalem is an abstractly stunning showcase for all the band in flip, and the closing Melody opens as an exhilarating, fast-tempo free blast earlier than evolving into hauntingly tremulous tenderness.

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That is music that splices lyrical shapeliness with bursts of take-no-prisoners abstraction, however Sassoon’s sensitivity to that stability is as alert right here as her listeners have come to anticipate.

Additionally out this month

The immense promise of the 24-year-old American saxophonist Immanuel Wilkins surges on with The seventh Hand (Blue Observe) – on which Wilkins and his hip younger New York lineup nimbly be a part of heavyweight non secular themes to light-footed modern jazz-making. On Louise (ACT), effervescent French saxophonist Emile Parisien steers a elegant US-European sextet by means of his poetically pensive or driving, boppish originals, plus a effective account of Joe Zawinul’s Madagascar. And saxist/composer Mark Lockheart turns his cross-genre melodic nous to a dozen synth-textured, fitfully chilled-out themes with a quartet together with keys original Elliot Galvin on Dreamers (Version). A bit hook-and-vamp-bound for the improv-inclined, however it grows on you.

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