Daniel Guggenheim – Beyond Moments & Time
Release Date: February 15, 2013
Record Label: Laika Records
Beyond Moments & Time is a reflection on the styles and concepts that were thriving in the mid-20th century jazz scenes. Here we find Daniel Guggenheim and his aiding quartet exploring a lot of moods and textures in this album that are interpreted in the variances of bebop, relaxing ‘cool’ tempos, modal tendencies, and even some mild experimental exercises for added excitement. Musically, Beyond Moments & Time comprises of a typical ensemble of instrumentalists, featuring musicians such as; pianist Peter Madsen, bassist Sean Smith, drummer Devin Gray, and of course lead composer, saxophonist Daniel Guggenheim. This performance is certainly nothing groundbreaking at this point in jazz, but it is a spectacle well embellished with a magnetizing allure that leaves the listener engrossed by every sound that emanates from the fingers and mouths of each musician.
The album opens with “Mystery In Casablanca”, which is quite possibly the highlight of this whole album. It’s a very compelling piece, though without being overly extravagant in nature. “Mystery In Casablanca” borrows on the philosophies of cool jazz and the eastern aesthetics from the works of Yusef Lateef to emphasize on establishing a calming atmosphere more than the flaunts of energetic and technical dexterity of typical bebop. Sean Smith starts off the piece with some sporadic notes on the bass, there’s nothing all that theatrical about them though, he’s just merely exploring the ranges of his bass with a few touches of the strings to set up the mood. The other instruments soon join in on his temperate rhythmic pace, and the music flourishes into an exquisitely prolific display. There is a mesmerizing level of communication happening in this performance, absolutely every element in this song is composed in such a harmonious fashion that it’s almost overwhelming to the senses. Sean Smith and Devin Gray keep the gentle flow going along in the background, which allows Peter Madsen and Daniel Guggenheim to direct the music into elegant melodies. The theme that Daniel Guggenheim exercises on his saxophone throughout the piece, for example, has a majestic beauty to its sound. It’s exquisite and infectiously memorable. The solo segments are also another impressive element in “Mystery In Casablanca”, and though Daniel Guggenheim certainly shines with his exhibitions of innovation and fluidity, pianist Peter Madsen certainly gets his own well-deserved moments in the spotlight also. During the climactic portions of the solo movement, Peter Madsen begins to deploy some very dynamic showmanship. Though he improvises at his own pace, alternating from stunning ostinato patterns to vivacious solo work, he never manages to stray too far from the song’s mellow attitude.
Most of the pieces in the album tend to follow a similar agenda as “Mystery In Casablanca”, in the sense that they focus a lot on expressing certain moods and conjuring up a style that compliments a lounge type of atmosphere. Though there are a handful of moments when the quartet spice things up and relieve themselves from the burdens of harmonic restrain to dwell into collective improvisation. “Frantic Journey”, for example, demonstrates a rather avant-garde approach to the music. Devin Gray eruptively breaks out into some bombastic percussive displays, which serve as a lead for the other musicians to follow. This is definitely Devin Gray’s song, because he’s throwing out some rhythmic patterns with such unbridled ferocity that it will no doubt bring the techniques of musicians like Tony Williams to mind. This is a very intense performance because we see the quartet constantly switching back and forth from a conventional structure to an anarchical exhibition. And what I mean by that is that there are both moments when the rhythmic and lead instruments operate in a complimentary fashion, as well as times when they completely deviate from that set to construct polytempic structures and waves of instinctive impromptu maneuvering. “Love’s Lost Way” and the closing piece, “Look Out the Window”, are kind of the return to sensuous melodic flow. They’re both very soothing numbers that really get inside your consciousness, especially “Love’s Lost Way”. It has a pensive spaciousness to it that can really consume you within its emotional allure. “Toasted” is another major highlight to be found here, and it’s one that balances the energy found in “Frantic Journey” with the harmonic framework of the mellower songs, to formulate a pure, unadulterated hard-bop performance. Aside from the exhilarating drum patterns that Sean Smith generates in “Toasted”, Peter Madsen’s piano movements steal the spotlight yet again with a brilliant sequence of alternating shifts and stellar soloing.
Overall, I must say that Beyond Moments & Time is definitely a jazz man’s album. It’s expressive, exciting, and highly elaborate. There’s a lot of phenomenal performances to be found here, each one offering their own witty grooves and ‘blue’ moods so as to offer a sense of variety to choose from. The musicianship here is beyond impressive and executed with such expertise, no matter what agenda they’re operating on. It’s indeed a very adventurous album, and though it emphasizes in providing melodies that are meant to be as accessible as possible, Daniel Guggenheim and his quartet regularly squeeze in some spaces for inspired improvisations. I recommend this album wholeheartedly to anyone looking for quality modern jazz. There’s no obscure concepts to comprehend on this one, just pure melody flowing out for instant
1. Mistery In Casablanca
2. The Moment I Met You
3. Frantic Journey
4. Love’s Lost Way
5. The Passion Of Moments And Time
7. Look Out The Window
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