Glenn Astarita

German trombonist Samuel Blaser merges his classical and jazz skills with similes and progressive-jazz arrangements of Italian Renaissance composer Claudio Monteverdi. It’s a manifold sequence of works sans any contrived implications or evolvements. Blaser’s evocative phrasings are alternated with variances in tone and a highly charged emotive element. Here, drumming great Paul Motian’s signature style is a near flawless match, as his accenting delicacies perpetuate an expansive framework. Otherwise, Blaser’s superfine band hits the mark, where yearning sentimentality often underscores the improvisational parts.

The musicians render open-world architectures, spanning pensive jazz spins on Monteverdi’s compositions amid a potpourri of exquisite and articulately arranged dialogues with pianist Russ Lossing. Nonetheless, Blaser is a multifarious artist who intersperses edgy overtones with lushly organized passages.

“Passacaglia” features Blaser’s drawling notes, whereas Motian’s lightly tapping drum work assists with spawning a heartfelt memoir via a motif that intimates a recap of life’s experiences. But “Si Dolce e l’ Tormento” rings in a paradoxical set of instances, partly due to the trombonist’s wah-wah generated choruses and slurring lines that hover atop Lossing’s flourishing cadenzas. Moreover, the quartet translucently aligns the classical, jazz, and free-jazz component.

Blaser’s curiously interesting fusion of Monteverdi’s polyphonic classical writings attains a harmonious balance. Sure, the classical-jazz hybrid approach does not always yield tangible results. However, Blaser’s brainchild is crafted with lofty proportions, largely shaped by his deeply personalized musical schemas and abetted by a sympathetic support structure. Indeed, one of the more persuasive jazz releases of 2011… – Glenn Astarita

Track Listing: Lamento della Ninfa; Reflections on Piagn’e Sospira; Reflections on Toccata; Passacaglia; Ritornello;Si Dolce e l’Tormento; Balletto Secondo–Retirata; Reflections on Vespro della Beata Vergine; Ritornello; Il Ritorno d’Ulisse in Patria–Atto Quatro, scene II.
Personnel: Samuel Blaser: trombone; Russ Lossing piano; Thomas Morgan: bass; Paul Motian: drums.