November 2008

Wolfert Brederode
ECM Records

The ECM label keeps coming up with young players who create on a high level in the fertile, challenging twilight zone between 20th-century composition and jazz. On Currents they are pianist Wolfert Brederode, multi-clarinetist Claudio Puntin, bassist Mats Eilertsen and drummer Samuel Rohrer.

The alluring ambience here could serve as background music for a very hip dinner party, but Currents belongs in the foreground. The leader’s 11 original delicate melodies are hard as metal sculptures. Brederode the composer creates lyric forms so radiant and complete that Brederode the improviser wisely does not try to improve them, but patiently derives their implications.

The orderly chamber music aesthetic of Currents does not keep Brederode from trusting his imaginative impulses. For example, the opening track, “Common Fields,” is for six minutes a quick floating drone, Brederode repeating a single treble figure, Puntin winding around and through it, Eilertsen and Rohrer sparking underneath. Then suddenly everyone but Brederode falls away and the piece stops and starts over as a slow, rapt fixation of one chord and three ascending notes, minimally, suggestively varied for two minutes. The two sections of “Common Fields” are juxtaposed but not explained. This album is full of such subtle mysteries.

Originally published in November 2008
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