Michael Gassmann

Michael Gassmann Quartet

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Trumpeter Michael Gassman is somewhat of an enigma on the jazz scene in Europe; his many appearances as a sideman and leader could never have prepared listeners for this date in Germany in 1992 with his own quartet that included drummer and percussionist Lucas Niggli, pianist Mathias Gloor, and bassist Thomas Schenkel. For starters, the deeply intimate lyricism the band came out of the gate with on "Campo," with its sliding-scale arpeggios and nearly cool jazz melodic invention, is both an easy and difficult way into a gig. There are blues inside this tune, albeit shaded ones, thanks to Gloor's insistence on playing Wynton Kelly-style comping chords as Gassman solos, eventually bringing it into full blues mode. As things end on an up-tempo move, Gassman and company thrown in a funk tune -- that is, right in the groove funk -- with implications of street sass and Donald Byrd's Black Byrd without the electricity. But changing faces is something Gassman never tires of; his mannerisms and his abilities are matched, his color palette within any given kind of jazz is wide and beautifully hued, and -- while not everything is perhaps steeped in the kind of sharp contrapuntal dynamics that excite most new jazz aficionados -- there is more than enough remarkable harmonic wizardry going on here to compensate. This is a very fine recording from what must have been a memorable evening.

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