Michael Gassmann

The Swiss Radio Tapes, Vol. 4: When We Were

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Michael Gassman oozes style: Not the flash-in-the-pan kind that makes you want to stand up and dance, and not the sort that makes the listener respond with "oohs" and "ahs." No, the trumpeter's style is spare and lean, the kind of style that Miles exuded, and, in fact, it is not inconceivable (though it may admittedly be cliché-ish) to think that Gassman draws from the same springs. Along with pianist Stefano Battaglia and percussionist Pierre Favre (two classic romantics), the trio generally maintains its unhurried pace and low-level dynamics to produce results that glisten with charm. As if to let us know that they can burn, the intensity is turned up on a tune or two -- but the remainder of the baker's dozen are true to form. The whole sparkles gently, as if the trio shares some little secrets. All but two of the pieces are totally improvised; this type of free jazz is not only accessible, but its sophisticated sounds seem as though they were written. Regardless of the mechanism, the results speak for themselves, and the crisp attacks and noir feel give this an extra edge.