Partially recorded when he was artist-in-residence at Calgary’s National Centre, using the studio’s keyboards and synthesizers, Torontonian-turned-New Yorker Quinsin Nachoff takes full advantage of Canada’s artistic resources to produce this notable two-CD set, Each of the soprano and tenor saxophonist’s six compositions cannily bolsters the intense textures created by his group Flux, which also features alto and C melody saxophonist David Binney, keyboardist and synthesizer player Matt Mitchell, and percussionists Kenny Wollesen and Nate Wood plus supplementary sound contributions.
March Macabre for instance adds the rhythmic slides and stomps of a tap dancer, plus layered vibrations from five additional horns to fill out the sequences, as Nachoff’s soprano buzzes and percussion splashes elaborate the narration. Craftily ambiguous, marimba, glockenspiel and vibraphone echoes replicate textures of the designated instrument on Toy Piano Meditation, contrapuntally challenging Mitchell’s precise or clamorous patterns on standard piano. While both saxophonists’ criss-crossing tones animate that composition with twittering screeches and end it with a spectacular penetrating trill, linear storytelling is never disrupted. Cleverly arranged, the remainder of Nachoff’s compositions otherwise add subordinate motifs arising from a laboratory full of electronics or Mitchell’s lucid harpsichord plucks to straight-ahead blowing from the core quintet. Overall this combination shows how well-thought-out composing and improvising can be adventurously matched without losing the allure of professional, swinging creativity.