21.05.2008 / Cadence Magazin USA, mai - june 2008
Lucas Niggli ZOOM meets ARTE Quartet /CRASH CRUISE
Another chapter in Niggli’s constantly evolving body of work, and one of his strongest yet.
Swiss drummer Lucas Niggli and his Zoom Ensemble, utilizing core trio with Nils Wogram and guitarist Phillip Schaufelberger, have put out a series of sessions in various ensemble extensions (11/01, p.111, 10/03, p.36, 5/05, p.122). This newest outing pairs the trio with the ARTE Quartett, a Swiss sax ensemble that bridges the worlds of composed and improvised music. ARTE have worked with musicians like Tim Berne (11/02, p.27), Urs Leimgruber (5/04, p.18), and Pierre Favre (1/05, p.21) and are well versed in bridging the worlds of composition and improvisation.
Niggli’s compositional forms provide an overall framework for the session which moves between longer improvisations and compact thematic pieces. Some of the pieces fly along with tight unison lines which explode into kaleidoscopic counterpoint, others use the sax quartet as harmonic backdrop for fleet trombone and guitar lines, and others mass the entire group for textured musings.
What comes through here is the ability of the ensemble to seamlessly integrate improvisation into the detailed compositions. The members of ARTE Quartett leverage their tight chamber-like interplay, expertly weaving their individual lines into the overall collective sound of the ensemble. Wogram is a rising star on the trombone and his playing is particularly impressive. Whether stepping out as a solo voice or diving across the written parts, his pliant lines are buoyed by the rich voicings of the ensemble. Guitarist Schaufelberger utilizes a clean tone with an electric bite to it that provides coloristic contrast to the warmer sound of the reeds and Wogram’s trombone. Niggli has a spry attack and manages to propel the music along with a nimble sense of swing. The music can move with a stately grace like on “Reflex” or rollicking energy like the title tune, which shifts from tight harmonies to angular counterpoint, particularly during Wogram’s spirited solo. The reed players also step out. On “Basa Buzz,” they break off to race lines around a dizzying groove. “One for Evan,” an homage to Evan Parker, is a reed feature constructed around phase shifting sheets of saxophone overtones shot through with looping linear kernels. This one is yet another chapter in Niggli’s constantly evolving body of work, and one of his strongest yet.
Michael Rosenstein, Cadence Magazin,