Fusk (Why Play Jazz; 2011)
Philipp Gropper (sax)
Rudi Mahall (bass clarinet)
Andreas Lang (Bass)
Kasper Tom Christiansen (drums)
Fusk, are a captivating and exciting quartet that could easily be mistaken for one of many of the Chicago piano-less quartet. But this German quartet are no mirror image of their American counterparts. They set loose on an imaginative journey that at it's core has shades of Parker, Coleman, Mingus and Dolphy at their peak. And while American influences may lay within their interior there is a fresh European vibe to that shines on the exterior. It's a rollicking and creative good time.
Fusk is essentially a supergroup of sorts. This a combination of a number of bands with diverse and dense perspectives. Whether its the fierce rock blend of Eder, the modernism of Quartz or the more dark sinister syncopation of Sonne, Fusk utilizes all those strengths to make for a well structured and brilliantly improvised debut. "Ein Kopf Kaffe, Bitte" jumps and bristles with agile yet twisting harmonics from both Gropper and Mahall. "November" is a shimmering little ballad with beautiful open spaces which Gropper and Lang filled with rich lovely tones. A piece that is resonates on all sides with subtle yet meaningful passion.
"Eins Zewi Polizei" and "Neun Zehn Schlafen Gehen" are where Fusk really start to improvise and fly willing upward with abandon. Each member swirls and creates their own pattern but somehow, somewhere they all meet in the end. It's an avalanche of sounds that stretches for long periods with moments of melodic bliss. Christiansen is spectacular during his improvised moments and provides a level of intrigue that the rest play off of amazingly well. Lang and Gropper move back and forth in raw yet light conversation which is definitely improvised but feels well charted like they had been doing this for years. "Berliner Bratwunder" returns Fusk back to it's more Coleman-esque origins as on "Ein Kopf Kaffe, Bitte". It's a great way to round out a session that has been filled with some diverse thoughts and tones.
Fusk is an album of multiple ideas brought in from previous group experiences. But where this quartet shines is; that they are thinking one step ahead of their some of their European counterparts in that once you've learned from your influences--what will you do with it. Fusk shows that you can do a lot. Enjoy...