I don’t get high anymore but when I used to, like back in my college days, all I ever wanted to listen to was classical music and jazz. To me there was always something about these genres, likely their lack of vocals, that made me “feel” the music so to speak.
I think specifically of such a diverse mixture of the experimental periods of Miles Davis, albums like Live Evil and Bitches Brew and Coltrane’s A Love Supreme also symphonic works by Mahler and Mozart and Beethoven. There is a certain power in these recordings that one cannot find in the same way in any other genre. There is also a strict amount of focus and concentration that one needs to fully appreciate these works, which seems funny given the drug reference but damn was I focused in then, dialed in in a way that I never was with any other type of music I feel.
These memories of my former life came flooding back as I sunk into a trance whilst listening to the Milan, Italy neo-classical jazz vibes provided to me by AB Quartet. The four musicians here are pianist Antonio Bonazzo, clarinet and bass clarinetist Francesco Chiapperini, Cristiano Da Ros on the double bass and Antonio Fusco who lays down the drums and percussion.
The quartets debut album Outsiding dips its toes firmly into the waters of classical music and jazz. These are not songs per se as much as they are movements. The record would be the perfect musical accoutrement to a modern dance routine. It is in that way sometimes seemingly an opera without words. Each player is a character is what I am trying to exact and their instruments flesh out feelings that would by any other band be the lyrics.
Outsiding opens strong with “Gea” as swirls of classical piano are bombarded by deep, elegant blows of clarinet and rhythmically thunderous crashes of percussion, which let up from time to time and flow freely with amoeba-like slowness, growing into and out of divergent landscapes of sound. This flows into the longest track, the nearly thirteen-minute “Pluto” an experiment in which what you hear is just as important as what you don’t. Nothing is rushed here, the tones ring in and out, notes hang as though in the balance; they drip from the instruments.
There are moments of sheer beauty such as the largesse of “BAobAb, Pt. 1” which opens slowly like a time lapse blooming of a flower set to music. Here one hears perhaps most precisely the way the musicians patiently coil their sound like some piece of musical DNA. Nothing is rushed, nothing is forced. The song is as natural as a breath. In stark contrast, its counterpart, “BAobAb, Pt. 2” is much more involved. It’s uppity and calls attention to itself. It wants you to know it’s there, in a playful way.
Outsiding closes with the effervescent and tantalizing sensoric vibes of “Quatro Notti d'acqua” which as its title suggests and translates to “Four Nights of Water” has a dark and rainy vibe to it, and some of the most eerie and doldrumatic sounds on the record are in play here.
Stylistically I found Outsiding to be outstanding. As a lover of music of this experimental classical jazz genre I was rather impressed and I think it holds up well to the records I aforementioned which I have held in high regard for many years. It is an impressive and rather eye opening work; one which I hope will be heard and appreciated. The world today needs more records like Outsiding.
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