Published Sep 16, 2016Tenor saxophonist/composer Quinsin Nachoff always pushes the envelope. Whether it's writing for sax and string quartet, contemporary ensembles or for a not-so-straight-ahead jazz group like the all-star one he's assembled for Flux, Nachoff's music is always challenging.
"Complementary Opposites" begins with regimented double saxes, the other provided by fiery David Binney. Binney gets hot and heavy before a tangled mass of keyboards and strings collide and cede to an evolving collage of Nachoff and horn and string backgrounds.
This complex mixture resolves somewhat as it segues into "Mind's Ear I," which is equally complex and mysterious, as there seems to be no central theme. Instead, there is thematic material that appears and is abandoned to yet another thematic mood, like the meditative one featuring multi-keyboardist Matt Mitchell. The structural approach is more chamber music than jazz.
The harmonies here are also less jazzy, the rhythms are straighter than one might expect from musicians with the group's pedigree. Nachoff steers clear of jazz clichés by creating melodies that avoid warm-and-fuzzy resolutions, such as on "Astral Echo Poem," where the theme keeps sidestepping where it seems it might go. And while rock-solid drummer Kenny Wollesen provides a throbbing pulse, he fleshes out all of the pieces with orchestral flourishes and a sensitive use of sound colors. The album finishes with the muscular and entwined "Tilted."
Flux is a demanding and rewarding listen. (Mythology Records)