Friday, September 8, 2017

Jazz CD review: Henrique Eisenmann's nifty notions of plucking music from silence

The pianist Henrique Eisenmann makes music out of the still center of contemplation, letting influences that vary from
Eisenmann: Picking up cues from the environment
dance forms to childish recitations nurture the quartet music of "The Free Poetics of Henrique Esenmann" (Red Piano Records).

He leads a group that can sound tightly organized, but never unduly circumscribed. Openness pervades the atmosphere, yet the commonality of effort is never compromised, but rather reinforced.

The one borrowed composition, for instance, Hermeto Pascoal's "Zurich," has a cat-and-mouse episode between Eisenmann and soprano saxophonist Gustavo D'Amico that emerges from a thematic statement animated by dueling meters. Rogerio Boccato's understated percussion playing flares up here once the tempo picks up, but usually it sort of wafts around the calm atmosphere.

"Sarabande No. 2" reaches distantly back to the old dance, which sounds stately today (when it is usually heard in Bach suites) despite its being seen as risque centuries ago. Eisenmann's sidemen join the pianist at a leisurely pace. The triple meter is maintained once the slow music gives way to a fast tempo. The overall effect is cohesive.  A different kind of slow-fast contrast is set forth in the more insistent "Afro-Latidos." A sax-vs.-hand-percussion duo in the center allows the intensity to peak before the piano solo centers the mind. The ending is perfect.

Both the movement and the sound of birds are freshly evoked in "Dans un Fracas de Plumes," with its pointillistic opening and metrically free process. There are soft, fluttering figures that avoid sentimentalizing the music's subject. "Anthropophagy" gives some props to the jazz tradition, thanks to the bass playing of Jorge Roeder and a bluesy cast over part of the six-minute span.

Eisenmann's music probes a kind of ensemble playing that may mark this quartet as ill-placed if presented in either a jazz club or a jazz festival.  It's worth sustained attention, and probably comes across best in a concert setting — or in the privacy of your home, listening to this CD.