Label: ECM Records, 2018
Personnel – Florian Weber: piano; Ralph Alessi: trumpet; Linda May Han Oh: double bass; Nasheet Waits: drums.
The classically trained German pianist Florian Weber is equally proficient within low-key ambient styles and more agitated jazz atmospheres. However, his second ECM work, Lucent Waters, reveals a steeper inclination to haunting, if occasionally stirring, contemplation. Weber, who is accompanied by a stellar trio of musicians with Ralph Alessi on trumpet, Linda May Han Oh on double bass, and Nasheet Waits on drums, procures to have his eight originals purely layered, describing mostly serene landscapes with transparency and sharp focus.
On the short opener, “Brilliant Waters”, the quartet sails pacifically and continues doing it on “Melody of a Waterfall”, whose percussive introduction prepares us for a classical-influenced water channel where Rachmaninoff’s swift nimbleness comes to mind. Ms. Han Oh dexterously moves her fingers on the fretless bass, articulating an intricate dissertation before Weber takes over.
Ralph Alessi displays his unique, quietly crisp tone on “From Cousteau’s Point of View”, which unfolds with a crystalline beauty without ever stirring the waters. This composition was inspired by recent diving experiences.
A bit of agitation arrives with “Time Horizon” where the delicate virtuosic shimmering of the piano operates over the hearty rhythmic net weaved by Oh’s palpitating bass pedal and Waits’ revolutionary whirls. Weber finishes it with strong, appealing chords.
If “Schimmelreiter” brings a bit of Satie’s classical melancholy, then “Butterfly Effect” is a mesmerizing voyage to a melodic universe that reminds me of Italian trumpeter Enrico Rava. You will feel surrounded by smooth sonic surfaces while enjoying deep moments of breathiness. This predominant tranquility also dominates during the first minutes of “Fragile Cocoon”, however, the intensity is increased during another creative solo by Alessi, who finds harmonic backing in Weber’s tense movements.
Melding disparate influences - from Lennie Tristano’s ideas about lines and counterpoint to Karlheinz Stockhausen’s polyphony-inspired drawings - Weber dedicates “Honestlee” to mentor Lee Konitz, with whom he always learns something new whenever they meet.
The concept is democratic on Lucent Waters, allowing everyone to shine at some point, and a steady balance is achieved through an effective application of control and freedom. Even if not always emotionally warm, the tunes are delivered with heart.
03 - From Cousteau’s Point of View ► 05 - Butterfly Effect ► 07 - Fragile Cocoon