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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Don Mather, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf, Glyn Pursglove



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Mountain Messenger.

9471-2 ACT

 

 



1.Slam The Door Stewart (Kanzig) 4:39*
2 I’m a Road Runner (Hollan/Dozier/Holland) 4:22
3.Wenn min Schatz go fuetere goht (trad./Kanzig) 4:21**
4.Prospection (Mayer) 6:46
5.Night Breeze (Kanzig/Sokal) 4:41***
6.Damenwahl (Kanzig) 4:12
7.Hip Pop Tamus (Kanzig/Sokal) 4:04
8.Better Report Kanzig) (6:20
9.Be My Love (Cahn/Brodszky)1:48
10.Slice Of Bread (Kanzig))5:00
11.Mountain Messenger (Kanzig) 4:29
12.Und wenn’s e mol ober isch (trad./Kanzig) 6:00
Total time: 57:01
*Dedicated to the great bass player Slam Stewart.
**Traditional Swiss Jodel Song (Appenzell) arranged by Heiri Kanzig
***Additional percussion on "Night Breeze": Ingrid Oberkannins
Harry Sokal-tenor & soprano sax, effects
Heiri Kanzig-double bass
Jojo Mayer- drums

This is a clever CD. The musicians are more than competent and their handling of an ensemble that lacks the support of a keyboard or guitar is on the whole, good.

But it is mainly the fact that they all have to be playing together most of the time to make chords out of melodic lines, which doesn’t make for easy listening; nor is it a totally reliable way of communicating a harmonic progression, particularly when they are improvising. The result can be a bit of meandering over the drums.

Track 1 begins with an "Effect. reminiscent of an indignant Donald Duck" and although it is a fun sound it was an odd thing to use in an opening number.

In track 2 the holes in the harmony start to show up when the sax gets cornered on one note or moves into riffs rather than melody lines. The frenetic efforts of the bass and drums to un-stick the sax are not very successful.

Track 3 is a Slow and is a welcome respite from the hurly burly that has preceded it.

There is some good planning and melodic invention and the recurring theme which is lovingly handled becomes almost a Worm-tune.

Track 4 brings Donald quacking away again interspersed with some clever instrumentation. In the solos there are some reflections on the previous tracks which work well to hold the musical style together, and the repeated fragments are well judged until the end where the ending is stretched too far.

Track 5 I could not decide whether Harry Sokal was doing a Roland Kirk or if the engineers were the stars on this track. The sleeve tells us there is additional percussion, but strangely there seems a lot less than on the other tracks.

Track 6 sounds like an attempt at a commercial style derived from Calypso, which is not very successful but the bass solo near the end is pleasant.

Track 7 Initially this seems to merge into its predecessor but it changes very subtly into a raunchy number with a catchy theme.

Track 8 The opening high bass along with the soprano leads into a fast tempo. This works well until one tires of the stubborn double bass which is stuck on an ostinato. There is more of the Kirk technique, (or the engineer’s art.)

Track 9 Why? One of the Goons once included "All the things you are" sung in a wavering voice amongst a series of comic items.

This tenor solo doesn’t waver but it is almost as incongruous in its context.

Track 10 The infection of track 9’s retrospective, seems to arrive in a quote of

"Bewitched, bothered and bewildered" at the beginning and the style of the CD changes. Most odd!

Track 11 is the Title track and opens with a more Monkish theme which moves along nicely. The theme recurs from time to time which is a good ploy used several times on the CD and it serves not just as a restatement, but as a good punctuation when the solos start to run dry.

Track 12 states the traditional tune and then after jokey semitone ‘jack-up’ sits back into the improvisation. There are a lot of fast notes which don’t always manage to go anywhere and when the tempo relaxes there is a sense of relief.

Heiri Kanzag the double bass player is the composer of 9 of these tracks and listening to his playing, he knows where to lay the foundations for improvisation and so Harry Sokal gets a lot of support.

Jojo Mayer is an enthusiastic drummer, who has more of a big band style than Trio,

This group claims to be innovative.

There is humor, some good playing, but I didn’t get any feeling of anything particularly new.

Adrienne Fox

 

 

 



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