14 Meinard KneerDer zweite Streich
Meinrad Kneer Quintet
Jazzwerkstatt JW 234 (jazzwerkstatt.eu)

Balanced perfectly between inspiration and interpretation, German bassist Meinrad Kneer’s compositions on Der zweite Streich (the second trick) epitomize modern creative music. Still the implied trick is that the eight tunes depend on sonic integration from this Berlin-based ensemble of fellow Teutons, trombonist Gerhard Gschlößl and trumpeter Sebastian Piskorz, Canadian alto saxophonist Peter Van Huffel and Austrian drummer Andreas Pichler.

While each player gets considerable solo space for individual theme elaborations, tracks heavily feature collective harmonies. That means interlaced horn vamps can propel undulating swing; or the other horns riff while one explores individual timbral motifs. Gschlößl’s cross-blown slippery sobs, Piskorz’s dedicated soaring triplets and Van Huffel’s measured bites and finger vibrations enliven the pieces, sometimes projecting tones every which way or expressing round robin soloing until connecting. Pichler’s machine-gun-like accents also play a crucial role, as do Kneer’s carefully positioned string stops. 

Still the determination of the bassist’s ideas are expressed most clearly on extended tracks like the contrasting Sad Thing and Rhapsodie à la Bédouin. Sophisticatedly musical motifs coalesce into story telling even as asides such as contrapuntal reed flutters and operatic brass squeals puncture linear movement on the former; and pivot to vaguely Arabic lilts from trumpet and trombone to preserve delicacy in spite of the theme’s intensity on the latter.

Overall the only trick demonstrated on this quintet’s second CD is how efficiently profound musical ideas are expressed with such diversity in nationality and playing styles.

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