Flutist Christian Artmann was on a fast track to becoming a classical performer in his native Germany when he had his jazz epiphany as a teenager at the Aspen Music Festival. Since then he’s been striking a balance between jazz improvisation and composition, and does so seamlessly on his first New York recording. Whether he’s swinging forcefully alongside drummer Jeff Hirshfield, bassist Johannes Weidenmueller and pianist Rubens Salles, as on “Next Steps,” or creating mesmerizing counterpoint, as on “Kafka,” his vision is one of confidence.
He sets a pensive mood on the sparse trio piece “Dark Slate Blue,” underscored by Hirshfield’s sensitive rubato brushwork and Weidenmueller’s interactive basslines. “On a Sentimental Flute” is a clever extrapolation on an Ellington theme. The title track is a daring excursion that demonstrates the chemistry of the core trio while showcasing the leader’s stunning virtuosity. And “Aria de Opereta,” featuring mezzo soprano Elena McEntire, encompasses all of Artmann’s musical tendencies, from classical to straight-ahead to avant-garde.