Pirouet Records

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Helen Kantos

- Refraction

With all its complexity, this is a highly emotional music. The players are the same as Anna Webber's debut Pirouet album. There are two horns – Anna Webber on Tenor saxophone, flute, and alto flute, and alto saxophonist-clarinetist James Wylie. Two players take care of the chords – vibraphonist and marimba player Julius Heise and pianist Elias Stemeseder. The band is rounded out by bassist Igor Spallati and two percussionists – Max Adrzejewski on drums and marimba and drummer Martin Kruemmling. They are impressive young players. Except for the youngest player in the group, who was born in Salzburg, Austria in 1990, they were all born in the 1980's, and their paths crossed at some point at the Berlin Jazz Institute. The preceding CD was recorded in Berlin in 2012. This present CD was recorded in Pirouet's new Kyberg studio in Oberhaching on the outskirts of Munich.
The beauty and vitality of the music entices – the musicians react to one another's play with consummate sensitivity. The pieces are ripe with nuance. For the listener, it is a sound experience of unusual subtlety and clarity. There can be a moment in which a disquieting pulsating voice rises to the fore – and in the next moment the saxophone, marimba, drums, and piano respond with quiet introspection. There is a word that perfectly encapsulates the feeling: tenderness. So it is with "Theodore", the amazing 14 minute piece that spans the middle of this collection of pieces. 

The methods used to bring these worlds together are also fascinating. With "Friction", the length of time it takes to play each bar is left open throughout the piece, so that it changes every concert. The title "Climbing on Mirrors" was inspired by an Italian idiom that refers to a situation in which one invents explanations for the inexplicable. Here Anna Webber chose the pitches through chance operations – a method that goes back to the American avant-garde composer John Cage (1912-1992). Such chance operations as throwing dice and other playful actions can be exploited in choosing tonal material. "Relentless" is a transcription of one of Anna Webber's flute improvisations. "Five (Action)" involves dividing a measure of 15/8 into three groups of five eighth notes. There is a lot of humor reflected in Webber's compositions as well as her titles. "Tacos Wyoming" is dedicated to a taco stand that she had simply imagined during an engagement in Wyoming. "The All Pro 3 Speed" refers to a broken-down three-gear bicycle. 

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