Robert Bachner

Heart Disc

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Austrian trombonist Robert Bachner bursts energetically from the get-go, letting the listener know he means business on his debut album as a leader. While not every track maintains this intensity, the trombonist's masculine, gutsy sound is reminiscent of Frank Rosolino, refreshingly devoid of the smooth, glassy doodle-tongue so popular among many modern jazz trombonists. Known as a strong big band sideman, Bachner is a monster technician whose slightly burry sound belies a consummate fluidity. This album is clearly Bachner's game, as he wrote all the pieces, produced the album, and is the featured soloist throughout. Christian Maurer complements him well as the second horn in this tightly driven quintet, and while the saxophonist's style may not be as distinct, Maurer nonetheless keeps up with the punches. On the upbeat "Moments of Noise," for example, he rips through the chords before Bachner turns down the heat just slightly before building to an invigorating conclusion. The rhythm section performs mostly in a supporting role, primarily helping to showcase the horns -- which it does well -- though each member, particularly pianist Reinhard Micko, shows flashes of brilliance. It would have been instructive to have heard the horns performing at least a couple of recognizable tunes, at least as a standard of reference, although the trombonist is clearly a good writer, and attentive to details, even if there is a formulaic mix of tempos and volume. Bachner impresses tremendously as an improviser, his only drawbacks being a tendency to sometimes stuff too much in a single solo at the expense of taste, and a more than an occasional lack of subtlety. That said, Bachner's full-bodied tone and engaging technical skills portend an exciting new voice on the jazz trombone who deserves a wider audience.

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