TIME OUT TAKE FIVE: Falkner Evans, Franco Ambrosetti, Jan Hammer & More

Time Out Take Five is a regular column comprised of pithy takes on recent jazz releases, spotlighting titles deserving attention that might otherwise go unnoticed.

Francois Carrier/Alexander von Schlippenbach/John Edwards/Michel Lambert: Unwalled – This near-eighty-minute recording is a freewheeling excursion into the spontaneity of the moment by four musicians unafraid of what they might find. Apropos of its title, this instrumental expedition is also without a ceiling, but the quartet effectively remains grounded: patience and precision become hallmarks of the seven performances. As a result, as on the shortest track here (2:56), no transition happens before its time or without optimum finesse, no matter the direction it’s taking. Meanwhile, each participant contributes equally to the perpetual motion that is the collective imagination, so the suspense the musicians generate grows incrementally (albeit almost imperceptibly) within individual cuts and the album as a whole. 

Franco AmbrosettiNora – With the dual references of Miles Davis’ “All Blues” and John Coltrane’s “After The Rain,” this LP might at first seem like an overly-obvious followup to the head horn man’s Lost Within You. Instead, this ambitious work for a quintet with orchestra evolves into a distinct progression from, and a worthy companion piece to, that 2021 work with a sextet. The addition of strings accentuates individual touches such as guitarist John Scofield’s two appearances: his solo intervals like the one “Morning Song Of A Spring Flower” set out in sharp relief the lush textures undulating through the likes of “It Happens Quietly.” All of this intuitive empathy makes for a rich listening experience wherein waxing nostalgic is a most healthy sentiment. 

Mikkel PlougDay in the Sun – Utilizing steel-string acoustic and classical guitars on this sequel to his previous, similarly-conceived album of 2017, Alleviations, this Danish instrumentalist/composer creates altogether entrancing music during tracks such as “Daybreak” and “Mosaic.” And whether he is picking or, as on “Over The Hills,” vigorously strumming the strings, what is otherwise readily-discernible exertion nevertheless sounds absolutely natural and, on the whole, effortless. The nuanced reverberations are readily apparent within Martin Bue’s recording, mixing, and mastering, so, the end result of the duo’s technical expertise–plus their obvious emotional investment in evidence during cuts like “April” and “Rosette”–make for an intimate forty-nine minutes. It’s an experience comparable in its intensity to solo piano works of, among others, Bent Sorenson, the author of “Barcarola.” 

Falkner EvansThrough The Lens –  A sequel to 2022’s Invisible Worlds, this cathartic solo piano work represents a wholly-improvised, spontaneous mirror image of the previous work’s carefully-crafted original material (both of which were recorded in the wake of his spouse’s suicide). As on the preceding LP, Evans sounds deeply immersed in each successive moment of tracks like the title cut or the longer numbers such as “Soul Witness” and “Blues For Lucia” (both of which run over ten minutes). Yet he maintains the clarity of mind there and elsewhere on the LP, focusing his technical skills to create a series of moments that build progressively in momentum from note to note and track to track over the course of these fifty minutes. 

Jan HammerSeasons Pt. 2 – Anyone who’s heard this multi-instrumentalist/composer’s album, The First Seven Days, will no doubt have their curiosity piqued by Seasons Pt. 2. From the very commencement of “Streaming,” the fourteen cuts build with inexorable suspense, not unlike that of Hammer’s aforementioned solo debut of 1975. The musicianship is fluent and tight too, all the more impressive given that, with the exception of Simon Phillips’ drums on “Oceans and Continents,” the former member of the Mahavishnu Orchestra plays all the instruments. “Moon of A Long Night” radiates the predictability of a ‘theme song’ the likes of which Hammer became most famous (via ‘Miami Vice’) but it is nonetheless appropriate in this otherwise unified, evocative piece of work. 

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