Joe Rosenberg Group

DANSE DE LA FUREUR • Black Saint 120202

Joe Rosenberg (ss), Jean-Luc Guionnet (as), Olivier Py (ts),

Mederic Collingon (tpt), Hubertus Biermann (b), Edward Perraud (dr)

JAZZ REVIEW • Barry Witherden - January 2005

The last Rosenberg CD to come my way was The Long And Short Of It (Black Saint 120142) which I reviewed in September's Fast Taste (JR 60). I expressed mild disappointment with that album.  Whilst I've always respected Rosenberg's work whenever I've heard it I felt that that particular session took a while to get into gear and would have benefited from some stern editing. I have no such reservations with this release.  It's excellent.

The title track uses the sixth movement of Olivier Messiaen's Quatuor Pour La Fin Du Temps as its starting point. I confess I can't think of many jazz records where material derived from Messiaen serves as the basis for improvisation. Ben Perowsky recorded a version of “Danse De La Fureur" on a Knitting Factory session a few years ago, but Rosenberg does more with it.  

Some early Michael Gibbs compositions, such as “And On The Third Day", were influenced by the French maestro, and there was the Amen album by the Keith Yaun Quartet two or three years ago. Yuan, however, used the mood of Messiaen's pieces as his springboard, rather than any part of their structure, whereas Rosenberg actually takes Messiaen's theme, which represents the trumpets played by the seven angels of the Apocalypse, to work on.  

Either side of this he has constructed a suite of companion compositions of his own, some of which could almost be by Messiaen. There is, consequently, an overall coherence and homogeneity to the session, without it ever becoming repetitive or forgoing variety.

Rosenberg has said “My music is founded in jazz improvisation and the compositions we work from use ideas and principles taken from contemporary classical music, Western and Eastern. All of this is put together to bring about interplay that is hopefully fresh and real."  They've succeeded very well here, and all the members of the group are on top form.  Guionnet, especially, plays exceptionally well, but all the horn players contribute a good deal of glittering, well-constructed improvisation, and Biermann and Perraud are exemplary, providing a strong, flexible and propulsive underpinning whilst paying ample attention to textures and shifts in mood.

CADENCE • Stuart Kremsky - February 2005

Trumpet and three saxophones with bass and drums? Yeah, I could go for that.  The idea of so many potential sounds without a chordal instrument in sight is pretty appealing.  Sometimes, though, leader and soprano saxophonist Joe Rosenberg doesn’t avail himself of that range and settles for a nearly unadorned head/solos/head structure.

A straight-ahead walking bass line opens “The List Makers.” With attractive horn voicings to follow the theme.  The solo sequences, lead by Rosenberg, sometimes stray from the main thrust of the theme but the band always gets back to the main tempo, ending with a rousing ensemble that envelops the end of Mederic Collingon’s jabbing trumpet solo.  Rosenberg’s excellent and notable warm soprano is immediately attractive, as is the way his horn blends with the other saxes.  I just wish they did a bit more of that, because the music really benefits from that attention.

Check out, for instance, the metallic discordances that open up the title track, credited to Olivier Messaien and the sole non-original of the date.  Here the horns start in tense unison and then move further and further apart in a collective improvisation over Hubertus Biermann’s prominent bass and Edward Perraud’s mallets.  It’s a long piece (11:26), and the interactions of the horns held my interest throughout.  The collective improvisations continue in the enigmatically titled “Not In Hong Kong”, a piece with constantly changing tempos and different instrumental voices coming to the fore then stepping aside.  The driving energy that this track generates is impressive, and it’s the high point of the disc.

The relatively short “Ballad” is all squawk and squall; frankly, all those high register sax noises make it more than a bit annoying.  The CD concludes on a bouncier note, and great solos by Olivier Py on tenor and Jean-Luc Guionnet on alto over funky bass and drums almost make me forgive the track’s general lack of development.  All told, an inconsistent CD, with more hits than misses.  The more space that Rosenberg gives to the horns, the better the music.