Friday, December 9, 2011

Pascal Niggenkemper: Upcoming Hurricane

Pascal Niggenkemper (bass)
Upcoming Hurricane (NoBusiness Records; 2011)
Simon Nabatov (piano)
Gerald Cleaver (drums)

I was already familiar with Pascal Niggenkemper's work as a result of the release, Klippe by Thomas Heberer, early this summer and a superb trio with Robin Verheyen and Tyshawn Sorey, PN Trio. So this was always going to be an exciting adventure to see what his new trio would put forth. And the new album, Upcoming Hurricane, pretty much says it all. This is a heavy storm of sound that comes on quietly but resonates brightly over 60+ minutes.

Clean, open and improvised, Niggenkemper is a brilliant performer but more importantly an astute and crafty composer and leader. Niggenkemper's idea of space, wind and earth as a theme for exploring music is embedded throughout this session.

The title track comes rolling in like a swarm of bees. The addition of Simon Nabatov (piano) provides a deeper and introspective outlook than PN Trio which was sax, bass and drums. Nabatov's free formed pounding keys intersect with Cleaver's pulsating drums and Niggenkemper's expertly dense bowed bass making for an intense listen. But it unfolds beautifully in all its clattering glory. There a rising tempo that reaches an epic two thirds of the way through that you have to really hold on tight because things could get out of hand. And suddenly all three musicians release you as if you were never there.

"Arbol de piedra" reverses the setting. It's a piece with a lot of space and room for each member to interpret freely. Cleaver touches around the outside of Nabatov exploratory notes. While Niggenkemper floats in and out of the melody with dreamlike quality. It's piece that allows the listen to think a dwell and become absorbed into the spaces between the notes. 

"Fighting The Mill" is Niggenkemper's piece. It's improvised yes but Nabatov and Cleaver add the chaos to talented bassists more cerebral movements on this number. The storm hits midway through as the trio goes off in different directions while somehow still holding your attention as to what the next note might be. Exquisite execution by composer and trio. There's even a small groove that develops about three minutes from time (I sensed it while listening on my headphones). It doesn't last long and is a direct result of the free flowing atmosphere of the session that notes and ideas began to fold into one.

Upcoming Hurricane along with Niggenkemper's previous PN Trio are both excellent documents of this rich talented bassist with an ever-evolving palate of themes.

This video is from PN Trio.

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