Reference: FSRCD 5106
Bar code: 8427328651066
This quartet features an international roster of jazz musicians: the multi-instrumentalist Jorge Rossy from Spain, playing vibes here and leading this session, along with Argentinian trumpeter Sergio Wagner, American bassist Danny Ziemann, and Hungarian drummer Marton Juhasz.
The four met in Basel, Switzerland in 2017 for Focusyear, an immersive yearlong workshop conceived by the Austrian guitarist Wolfgang Muthspiel: exceptional younger musicians would rehearse and study with celebrated artists like Rossy, Mark Turner, Larry Grenadier, Jeff Ballard, and others. Muthspiel explains his motivation: “Jazz is hard to teach and some of its essential qualities are hard to put in words, let alone systems. Focusyear is my attempt to create the most direct learning environment for talented musicians, one that bypasses the many dangers of academia and deals exclusively with the reality of sound and community of an ensemble.”
This recording captures the quartet’s mature interplay, the culmination of almost a year of working together, and offers some quiet surprises. First, if you only know Rossy as the brilliant and musical drummer from Brad Mehldau’s first trio, his beautiful vibraphone voice will be an unexpected pleasure.
Meanwhile, if you thought you were about to hear three hotshot youngsters trying to prove their mettle with an established jazz heavy—a not unreasonable expectation given the nature of this group—you’re in for a bigger surprise: this isn’t a collection of athletic, odd-metered, check-out-our-killer-chops scorched earth originals trying to prove a point, the sort of record that’s not hard to come across these days.
“Luna” is the opposite of that. And, in fact, there is no “mentor/student” dynamic captured here at all. Instead, this collection of mainly underplayed standards and some nice Rossy originals sounds like four friends—peers, to be honest—coming together to play for each other and celebrate the most timeless and elemental aspects of the jazz art form: swing, melodic inventiveness, and sensitive group interaction.
Whatever its origins, this is a mature record that swings hard. If you were to encounter it in a “Blindfold Test,” you might well assume you’re hearing a quartet of seasoned pros who’ve played together for ages and are masters of the music: and that, to me, makes the most impressive statement of all.