|Holger Scheidt Group|
CD Release for
THE TIDES OF LIFE
@ ShapeShifter Lab
Fri, April 10 at 7pm
Holger Scheidt Group
THE TIDES OF LIFE
Street Date February 10, 2015
Holger Scheidt: bass
Rich Perry: tenor sax
Gordon Au: trumpet/
Victor Gould: piano
Anthony Pinciotti: drums
For Tides of Life, his third album as a leader (his first for the renowned German label Enja), the outstanding bassist/composer Holger Scheidt draws upon his personal favorite era in jazz history.
“I love the quintets of the 1960s. Records like Miles’ ‘Nefertiti’ or Herbie Hancock’s ‘Maiden Voyage’ have elevated my understanding of music in a most powerful and important way. It was that period of Jazz that opened my ears for the large universe of music this world provides.”
While Holger has freely experimented in a variety of forms, referring to the transcendent substance of that music is most appropriate for the highly personal journey on Tides of Life. Its six extraordinary compositions depict six distinct moods that every aware human being experiences and strives to understand as they learn about themselves and their destinies: failure, desperation, rage, calm, hope and triumph.
“This music is autobiographical and completely subjective. Of course, I have been in all of those moods I describe with my record, again and again. And I have found that they are all connected and even depend on and cause each other. This recognition turns that subjectivity into universality and so there is solace as much as grounding in it. With this project I am seeking to describe a classic, timeless and universal dramaturgy of human life by referring to the means of a classic, timeless and universal style of music.”
In this quest, Holger embraces the aesthetic substance that produces artistic achievements of the highest level; and along with his four collaborators, delivers fully on that purpose. Joined by tenor saxophonist Rich Perry, trumpeter Gordon Au, pianist Victor Gould and Anthony Pinciotti on drums, these five consummate artists achieve the synergy and unity of intent that are essential to this level of musical pursuit.
In the front line, Perry’s full-bodied, muscular sound and fluid style harkens to the Wayne Shorter/George Coleman model of Holger’s inspirational material; while Au’s warmly compelling tone and articulate, lyrical expressiveness are ideally suited to Holger’s compositions. Gould’s approach to piano certainly possesses the sweeping range of Hancock, but also exhibits that darkly lustrous flavor of another ‘60s icon, Andrew Hill. Pinciotti’s highly impressive drumming is always impeccably tasteful, never ostentatious and always fully appropriate to the energy and drive needed to propel the music.
While the virtuosity of all five musicians is fully apparent, it is always within the intent of the music, never manifested for its own sake. As is always essential for music of this nature, each “supporting” musician has to make the music entirely their own, but never losing the focus that their goal is to fulfill the vision of the leader – a highly challenging venture that each of these musicians achieves in exemplary fashion.
Although the music is clearly a collective effort, it is unquestionably Holger’s album. He limits himself to two solos on the entire album, but his deeply wooded sound and vividly vibrant texture are always at the core of the music – focusing, shaping, driving, shifting and propelling the other musicians and the essence of the music forward toward his ultimate vision.
The compositions are brilliant - complex and rich, inventive and lyrical, uplifting and delightful, and ideally structured for the explorations of the subject matter. And while the narrative may be rooted in the mood of each title, a full palette of emotional content is depicted on each piece, creating that linkage that Holger intended when he conceived this project. This is not an album where each track is filled with solos. With the exception of the final track, there are only two solos on each piece; the soloists chosen by Holger to best focus upon the goal of each composition. The material ranges from beautiful balladry to scorching ferocity with all stops in between, and the sequencing is structured in filmic fashion, telling a narrative story that plays out to its logical conclusion.
The album opens in somewhat daunting fashion conceptually with failure – an evocative, atmospheric piece structured on a descending pattern and with a rubato pulse (employed at various times on the album, always handled flawlessly by the ensemble, never sacrificing rhythmic energy by its use). Perry’s virile solo develops into stormy turbulence and Holger’s emotive and lyrical solo is enthralling. Failure often leads to desperation, depicted here dramatically with tenor long tones and resonant piano chords bridged by a pensive trumpet-hewn pendulous theme. Au’s mellifluous solo – sounding occasionally like a flugelhorn – is a beautifully constructed lament leading into a delicate, filigreed and buoyant tale told by Gould.
Desperation begets rage, a vigorously up-tempo journey with a swirling theme fired by the tenor and stoked by Pinciotti’s sizzling drums. Gould’s luminescent solo is fiery and rhythmic, and Perry’s explosive solo is powerfully visceral, building to one climax after another. As rage wanes, calm ensues; a lovely, winsome theme that blossoms through Au’s trumpet lead, shadowed warmly by tenor. Perry’s solo is graceful in its lyricism and Holger tells a most expressive story with his brilliantly crafted solo.
A deliciously lilting theme, splashed liberally with tenor/piano unison passages offers hope. Gould superbly blends chords and runs in his stirring solo, while Perry’s is complex and terrifically inventive. Finally, we reach triumph, its colorful fanfare-like theme built on insistent piano chords. Gould’s solo features luminous interplay with bass and drums; Au’s articulate and energetic solo swaggers vehemently; and Perry’s potent, spirited solo is jubilant; all culminating in the ensemble taking the piece out in celebratory and enthusiastic fashion. A radiant conclusion to a totally captivating journey through the full gamut of emotions.
The profound and lofty intent of the concept in no way interferes with the exuberance, accessibility and the sheer joyousness of the music contained on the album – a stellar achievement on every level.
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