Norbert Stein Pata Music Graffiti Suite

Jazz conceptualist Norbert Stein has spent his career exploring how to bring different musical minds together in collaborative, mutually stimulating ways. With Graffiti Suite, he has gone into the lion’s den of jazz orthodoxy, the NDR Bigband, an aggregation of hardened studio pros, and got them to think way, way outside their usual "box” of charts and changes. Starting with a four-part triptych based on sound sculptor Franz Patäng’s works, Stein uses his graphic notation and conducting to elicit striking sound masses, like a kind of jazz Edgard Varèse. And with all that assembled hornage, he gets some architecturally magnificent vibrational structures. But it’s when the veteran jazzbos start soloing that their roots start showing. Jazz soloists spend a lifetime developing their vocabularies, their expressive modus operandi — that’s who they are as musicians. So when they start to solo, well, this is stuff we’ve heard before. Some moments are transcendently beautiful, like Fiete Felsch’s lithe recorder solo in "Music for 7 Houses.” And Marcio Doctor and Mark Nauseef contribute startling percussion/drum work throughout. Make no mistake the solos on this two-CD set are superb. But what Stein needed for this monumentally ambitious suite are players who could invent their own rules, not just work within someone else’s. That said, this is easily the most challenging, widest ranging big band music you’re likely to hear in this decade. (Pata) (Pata)