Rosie Hertlein

Two Letters I'll Keep

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    8
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In a sense, this music reflects its strange combination of instruments: two violins, saxophone, French horn, trombone, and drums. There is no traditional rhythm section, and this particular three-horn grouping is one that is rarely used. The compositions, too, are molded to the group, as the violins play a central role, with the brass and sax weaving in and out, and the sensitive drumming of Jay Rosen holding the bottom. The writing is so seamless that it is difficult, if not impossible, to tell which portions are composed and which are improvised. The individual and collective solos are uniformly excellent, with leader Rosi Hertlein and French hornist Vincent Chancey the standouts, but every member of the ensemble contributes impressively. The violinists are indistinguishable, and it is a shame that their individual statements are not identified in the notes. Many recordings cross genres, but this one is virtually impossible to pigeonhole at all. The compositions draw from jazz and classical music, and the improvisations are smack dab in the middle of the modern avant-garde. Labels, though, are not too helpful in understanding this (or, for that matter, much other) art, and what makes this set so interesting and even sometimes enthralling is the variety, the attention to detail, and the unique, eclectic quality of the product. By the way, there are a couple of references to "Boulevard of Broken Dreams Again" -- an enticing title, but one which does not appear on the CD.

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