ThirdSitting astride the Jazz and Ambient categories, this is one for those who really love tone poems.

Label: ECM

Time: 13 tracks / 41 mins

Sitting astride the Jazz and Ambient categories, this release is theoretically typical of ECM’s output.

Floating along at the pace of a jellyfish, Nicholas Masson’s tenor and soprano saxes and clarinet create mood sketches, gently coloured in by Roberto Pianca’s guitar picks and drones. Emanuele Maniscalco has the tricky job of adding occasional drums to pieces whose dreamy tones rarely gather enough speed to need it, so he either takes a Paul Motian approach or adds more shading with additional piano.

As usual, Manfred Eicher’s production gives a sound so clear that a kitten walking into the studio could constitute a major disruption to the atmosphere.

With only two tracks lasting longer than 3 minutes and 33 seconds, there is no chance for the band to innovate or develop ideas, meaning that it is hard to separate one track from another – hardly the joy of sax.

Occasionally (the title track and “White Epilogue”), there are louder bursts, which break the mood without adding melody, whereas at its best (“Happy People”) it touches on the soulfulness that Tord Gustavsen naturally oozes.

Normally, I adore this label’s atmospheric works and love to have their pristine sounds bathe my ears, but while there is technically nothing wrong with this release, neither is there the character that draws me into so many of ECM’s projects.

So this is one for those who really love tone poems. For those looking for melody, development, character and variety, there are plenty of other acts on this label that deliver these in pallet-loads.


Derek Walker

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