Saxophonist/composer Patrick Zimmerli follows up 1995's Explosion with another challenging work from the same ensemble. As was the case on the previous record, two pieces are from jazz repertoire: Thelonious Monk's "Evidence," set to a perky 7/8 groove, and the standard tune "Invitation," performed in a relatively straightforward manner, albeit with extensive reharmonization. Zimmerli's originals are as abstract and exotic as ever. "Sand," the opener, begins with a drone note that sets up a strikingly subtle, Eastern-influenced rubato theme. (Kevin Whitehead's second-by-second analysis in the liner notes is well worth reading.) The piece evolves into epic, free interplay between Zimmerli, guitarist Ben Monder, electric bassist Stomu Takeishi, and percussionist Satoshi Takeishi. The second original of the date, "The Elements Suite," consists of three movements: "Fire/Earth," which opens with a rapid, crazed-sounding line and goes on to feature tight tenor/guitar unison passages and a more harmonically defined, almost Latin-tinged section; "Air," a calmer rubato movement, with primordial sounds issuing forth from Satoshi Takeishi's percussion; and "Water," a busier, in-tempo exposition built around a short, clever melodic fragment. Both the originals and the standards bear clear marks of Zimmerli's highly individual style, in which contemporary classical and ethnic musics mix with free jazz, and in some cases -- especially on "Invitation" -- not-so-free jazz.
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AllMusic Review by David R. Adler