Apr 20 2015
Saxophonist Till Martin weaves gorgeous melodic strands into thick, flowing lines on his latest recording, The Gardener. The addition of cello and viola allows the quintet to transition between an icy elegance and a soft warmth, which provides a perfect amount of edge to complement the comforting, serene beauty. There are countless moments like these spread across this captivating album.
With opening track “Captain Obvious,” the inherent melodicism begins to emerge almost immediately. However, the quintet shows it’s not willing to sacrifice other components while crafting the melody. They set down strong rhythmic lines of demarcation to guides the song’s development, which provides added definition to the melody via bounded motion. “Spring Mechanic” sees a more even dispersal of attention. It also has the same impish cadence as the album-opener.
“Unspoken” sees peaceful melodic passages cut through the song like a stiff, cool breeze in Summer. It’s also allowed to rise up in a moment of unbridled intensity, where the big pronouncement is afforded the space typically used for melodic insight. “Cordless Wire” follows suit with its own displays of volatility, spurring on solos to build momentum, twisting, winding upwards. “As the Crow Flies” also lets loose, and the way that gentle melodic passages bleed into the confluence of rapid fire tempo and wavering harmonies is positively enchanting, not to mention proof that melodic expressiveness and rhythmic intensity need necessarily work at cross-purposes.
The serene “Four Breaths” is about as pretty as can be asked of a song. And “Valerian,” a ballad, delights in the small motions that occur at an easy pace. Martin spins a solo, dancing around the edges of the song before rejoining it for a quick twirl.
Title-track “The Gardener” is the ultimate proof of the quintet’s talent at interweaving melodic lines and arriving at an intricate expression of beauty… while still affording themselves time to play with the tempo for a bit of contrast.
The album closes with “Across the Blue Above,” an up-tempo piece that builds such a lovely rhythmic flow that a number of enchanting melodic passages are able to soar just over its surface. The intertwined lines of melody and rhythm seem to possess no beginning, no end, and give the sense they could go on forever. A track like this one will make the listener wish they would.
It goes a long way to describing the entire album.
Your album personnel: Till Martin (tenor sax), Andreas Höricht (viola), Christian Elsässer (piano), Henning Sieverts (bass, cello) and Bastian Jütte (drums).
Released on Unit Records.
Jazz from the Baldham, Germany scene.