Biosphere is likely the first jazz album to include compositions by Lee Konitz, Eric Clapton and the band Coldplay. More surprising, though, is the fact that all of the songs make sense in the context of the album. German-born pianist Florian Weber, also one-third of the trio Minsarah, plays with a style marked by melodic lyricism, intense dexterity and a background in the sciences that seems to fuel a predilection for odd rhythms. His interpretations have as much spark as his quirky originals.
Weber frequently plays acoustic and electric pianos simultaneously, and his general tactic is to hold down an ostinato on one keyboard while soloing on the other. Guitarist Lionel Loueke, bassist Thomas Morgan and drummer/tablas player Dan Weiss actively participate in the shaping of the sound. Loueke’s muted guitar adds a great texture, and his own “Mivakpola” acts as a perfect respite between Coldplay’s “Clocks” and R&B singer Jamiroquai’s “Cosmic.”
Weiss gets plenty of opportunities for taut solos, but his best work comes in “Biosphere,” a piece written in the insane meter of 25/16, wherein the drummer switches between traps and tablas. Konitz and Weber receive co-credit for a recasting of “All the Things You Are” titled “Evolution,” which focuses more on improvisation than theme. (Minsarah is probably better known as the rhythm section in Konitz’s New Quartet.) Wrapping up with Clapton’s ballad “Tears in Heaven,” Weber gives listeners a chance to catch their breath and contemplate the progressive set that has just flown by. Most of the details will linger long after the album is over.