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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf


Op Der Schmelz Live




  1. Dredger of Pig Rolls
  2. Lviv
  3. Budmo, Hay!
  4. Nazar
  5. Op der Schmelz
  6. Still Alive
Roby Glod (alto and soprano saxophones): Roberta Piket (piano): Mark Tokar (bass): Klaus Kugel (drums)
Recorded February 2010, Centre Culturel Op Der Schmelz in Dudelange, Luxembourg [65:27]


Op Der Schmelz means `at the foundry' and the product being smelted in this disc is full of freedom, if not necessarily `free' in the strict Jazz sense. The tracks last from six to 18 minutes and consist of quite straightforward seed material on which the quartet of Roby Glod (alto and soprano saxophones), Roberta Piket (piano), Mark Tokar (bass) and Klaus Kugel (drums) improvise. Don't expect tunes, however.

Piket is, or can be, quite a discursive stylist and Glod is a fluent and attractively toned tenor player and a distinctive purveyor of the soprano as well. Kugel shows good time and ideas, not least on Dredger of Pig Rolls - a title which, perhaps fortunately, remains unexplained. The foursome is technically and harmonically accomplished as even a casual listen to Lviv will make clear. They work together well, pick up ideas and take confident solos. They are strong on timbre and effect, notably in the case of Budmo, Hay! where the sax is increasingly urgent, the piano lines terse and the arco bass solo sinewy and allusive.

The revving bass playing on Nazar reminds me, perhaps weirdly, of Christian Lindberg's trombone playing whereas the piano playing here is almost pointillist in places. The title track is the longest though, ironically, in many ways the least interesting even with the stagey effects they employ to increase coloristic potential (the cymbal played with the bow trick is surely the flogged horse of our time). When they base a track on a pre-existing piece of music - Still Alive is partially based on Ukraine's national anthem - the results come out as near post hard bop as anything else here; I mean that as a compliment.

Without doubt these are four technically excellent musicians. What they lack is soul. Their music is sometimes studied and just a bit arid. There is too little joy.

Jonathan Woolf

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