Recommended: Partikel – “String Theory”


Partikel - "String Theory"Partikel, a trio of saxophonist Duncan Eagles, bassist Max Luthert and drummer Eric Ford, add a string quartet for their newest release, and it’s an inspired decision.  Their previous release, Cohesion, was a nice enough straight-ahead modern set, but String Theory is definitely a step up.  Most notable is how the trio’s typical wild expressiveness is both enhanced and tempered by the lovely harmonies and frenetic accompaniment of strings.  Melodies are strung out long like a river, and riding along in its current is all of the tranquility and turmoil that result from this pairing.

No better evidence of this result exists than in the three-part suite “Clash of the Clans.”  The bursts of dissonance lock into step with gently lilting passages, and side-by-side expressions of chaos and tranquility come off as a perfect match.

And even on a more conventional composition like “Shimmer,” the trio’s effortless shaping of a tuneful song has no difficulty assimilating the string quartet into the mix.  This is an important quality of this album… that there are times when the strings are a separate element that demand a separate treatment from the normal flow of a saxophone trio, but there are also tracks when everybody is a member of the same crowd, where it’s a septet and not a sax trio plus string quartet.  That shifting of attention creates a compelling sense of contrast and confluence, and it never lets the ear get complacent with any kind of assurance as to where the next song will land.  And when they’re able to accomplish that feat within the span of a single tune, as they do on the ten-minute-long “The Buffalo,” the positive effects resonate with even greater strength.

That said, more often than not, the album flows with a transition similar to the thick straight-ahead jazz of “Bartering with Bob” to the jazz-classical string quartet prominence of “The River” and then back to the jazz ballad flirtation of “Wray Common.”  It’s an example of this album’s strength and all the reason you need to go scoop this solid recording up.

Your album personnel:  Duncan Eagles (tenor & soprano saxes), Max Luthert (bass), Eric Ford (drums, percussion), Benet McLean (violin), David Le Page (violin), Carmen Flores (viola) and Matthew Sharp (cello).

Released on Whirlwind Recordings.

Jazz from the London scene.

Available at:  Bandcamp | eMusic | Amazon