Sat Feb. 2, 2019
20:30

Max Nagl Ensemble (A/USA/AUS)

Max Nagl: alto, soprano, bariton saxophone, clarinet
Pamelia Stickney: theremin
Joanna Lewis: violin
Anne Harvey-Nagl: violin
Clemens Salesny: alto, tenor saxophone, clarinet
Martin Eberle: trumpet
Phil Yaeger: trombone
Clemens Wenger: keyboards
Gregor Aufmesser: bass
Herbert Pirker: drums

The Max Nagl Ensemble: Live at Porgy & Bess Vienna

There's no telling what Austrian woodwind artist Max Nagle will pull out of his stockpile of tricks. A premier progressive jazz acolyte and prominent improviser, he's an ideas man who has recorded for many prominent European avant-garde record labels. Here, Nagl's nonet sculptures a program formed on traditional concepts with a nouveau 'tude. But his concentrated focus and uncanny manner of bridging multiple gaps all at once, generates a source of inspiration.

The live program intimates an air of rejuvenation. One of the more notable tracks is "Ippen Erger," a piece designed with complex rhythmic maneuvers that spark a sense of anticipation throughout. From the onset, the musicians coagulate a sense of disorder, then surge onward with dreamlike avant- expressionism amid punchy beats and free form detours. One of the more interesting aspects pertain to Pamelia Kurstin's use of the Theremin, often stylized into a vocal component atop Nagl's torrid sax lines and the strings sections' soaring upper-register ostinatos. However, the main plot is directed towards a mini-historical perspective, where straight-ahead jazz, rock, and the outside strata align with subtlety, grace, brawn and an air of intrigue. His compositional impetus is devised with melodic content, yet he doesn't favor any one particular genre.

Nagl bears a mark of distinction, whether engaging small or large ensemble projects or on releases where he fuses electronics and intersperses numerous musical vernaculars, often yielding a parade of striking frameworks. (Glenn Astarita, www.allaboutjazz.com)