Friday, April 26, 2013

Marc Mangen Trio Strains of Delight and Despair Neuklang 2013

I have a tendency to annoy some in the industry when I speak my mind. Improvisational music or jazz as it has been come to be known in the United States is easily the most fractured and misunderstood genre of music the world has ever seen. The market in the United States focuses on the overtly commercial ignoring the fact that as the world seems to be getting smaller while becoming more global there are artists overseas that should be embraced by the American audience not to mention the plethora of platforms available for labels here to promote the artistry you find in countries such as Japan, Italy and Germany. The Marc Mangen Trio is on par with piano trio you may find working anywhere, the latest release Strains of Delight and Despair is easily on my short list for best of 2013.

If good piano players not to mention trios are a dime a dozen then Mangen is worth a million. Rounding out this jazz collective we find the dynamic double bassist Johannes Schaedlich and the stylish grooves of drummer Jens Biehl. I use the term collective as this could easily pass with any of the musicians claiming a leadership role. It is a rare and beautiful experience when three voices can come together as one creating an emotional ebb and flow. Lyrically centered with an addictive use of odd time signatures that creates a dynamic tension not often heard or appreciated in the American market.  

Opening with "Circles" we find a rich yet incredibly intimate presentation, melancholy but never morose. "Sphere" flips the group dynamic with Schaedlich assuming more of a lead position with his opening solo as Mangen and drummer Biehl quietly slip in before the listener may realize it. The ability to shift dynamics on the fly with ever losing accessibility or the lyrical sense of purpose is a righteous groove that is pulled off with flair and precision. "Seascape" captures a slight cinematic quality as do several compositions on the release but there is a deceptively subtle blues infusion smoldering just below the surface.

Strains of Delight and Despair takes the listener on a emotional journey of spatial wonder with a three dimensional sonic depth of field as vibrant and full filling as one could imagine. 

Breathtakingly beautiful.

Tracks: Circles; Not Yet; In The Meadows; Cradle Song; Lovely As Ivory; Incantation; Sphere; When It Goes Away; Seascape.

Personnel: Marc Mangen: piano; Johannes Schaedlich: double bass; Jens Biehl: drums.