by Minsarah

Guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel has observed that some amazingly silly ideas continue to plague parts of the jazz world -- for example, the notion that an electric bass should never be used as a solo instrument or the idea that a jazz musician's chops will suffer irreparable harm if he/she plays the occasional rock, funk, reggae or country gig. Rosenwinkel is absolutely right: jazz, unfortunately, does have more than its share of laughably dogmatic ideologues. But at the same time, there are also many broad-minded jazz musicians (Rosenwinkel himself, for example) who insist on keeping their options open, which is what Minsarah does on this self-titled CD. Minsarah (an acoustic trio consisting of pianist Florian Weber, bassist Jeff Denson and drummer Ziv Ravitz) demonstrates that when it comes to stylistic influences, jazz is not an either/or proposition; in other words, being influenced by one type of jazz does not rule out the possibility of being influenced by another type of jazz. Idolizing pianist Bill Evans doesn't mean one cannot learn a thing or two from Cecil Taylor, and in fact, Evans and Taylor are both influences on this 2006 date -- although Evans is a bigger influence. Minsarah's work is best described as advanced post-bop that often ventures into avant-garde territory; this 55-minute disc (which was recorded in Germany) is not an exercise in atonal chaos, but it definitely favors an inside/outside aesthetic. Weber gets a lot of inspiration from the crystalline playing of Evans, Chick Corea, Keith Jarrett and Marian McPartland, but he also brings to mind Paul Bley's abstraction and incorporates elements of Taylor even though he isn't nearly as radical or iconoclastic. Although original material dominates the album, Minsarah also provides interpretations of Wayne Shorter/Miles Davis' "E.S.P." and Björk's "New World." The very fact that Minsarah can use both Björk and Shorter/Davis material as improvisatory vehicles illustrates their non-dogmatic outlook -- an outlook that serves them well on this enjoyable post-bop/avant-garde CD. – Alex Henderson

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