09 Sarah Bernstein QuartetSarah Bernstein – Veer Quartet
Sarah Bernstein; Sana Nagano; Leonor Falcon; Nick Jozwiak
New Focus Recordings Pan 26 (newfocusrecordings.com)

Sarah Bernstein is a violinist and composer exploring the boundaries of genres, mixing elements of jazz, the avant-garde, electronica and improvisation. On this album, she explores the more traditional sounds of a string quartet but not with a result that is at all traditional. Her six compositions range from the hectic and angular News Cycle Progression to the more lyrical Clay Myth with its broad, elegiac head, to Hidden where she flirts with minimalist arpeggiation and an unpredictable ending. 

My favourite track is the first one, Frames No.1: clear jazz references with a walking bass in the cello, solid grooves, and a simple form that gives soloing time to each of the four players. The string playing throughout is excellent though particular improv kudos go to Bernstein and cellist Nick Jozwiak who throws some surprisingly dense material into his solos. Bernstein often has the group accompany the solos with pizzicato: a nice device that sounds great. 

Four string players of this quality have to be classically trained so you won’t hear the sort of language you might expect from jazzers. What you do hear is a group of excellent musicians searching for something new. Bravo to that.

Listen to 'Sarah Bernstein – Veer Quartet' Now in the Listening Room

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