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TZGIV "More Light"
TZGIV "More Light"

The name of the most recent Markus Stauss project is Trank Zappa Grappa In Varese or TZGIV for short. "Did Zappa Drink Grappa In Varese? A somewhat hypothetically pataphysical question, which none of the band members seem to have an answer to! Fortunately the music speaks for itself. Swiss saxophonist Stauss is the main composer of this freewheeling quartet. The compositions are in general short and minimal, acting as a springboard for intense and often lengthy improvisations from Stauss, and Belgians Campion, Delville, and Delchambre, the latter perhaps both best known as members of Belgian nu-jazz outfit The Wrong Object, whose discography and live appearances have included collaborations with top British jazz musicians Annie Whitehead, Harry Beckett, and the late Elton Dean. The unexpected twists and turns, the uncompromising refusal to be limited by stylistic genres or the listener's expectations, are the essential ingredients of this sonic adventure. The sound quality is excellent throughout - every nuance is captured, from the torrent of Stauss's edgy tenor multiphonics and more subtly understated soprano, to the often barely audible electronics supplied by Delville and Delchambre. Many of the improvised sections are collective rather than solo-based, and each instrument has its own special story to tell in several short solo passages. Influences are always easy to name, (Delville describes the music as "a mix of punk jazz and medieval"), but whether the inspiration comes from 20th century giants like Zappa, Coltrane, Hendrix, Weather Report, Soft Machine, Gong, or the 14th century composer Guillaume de Machaut, the group manages to stamp it's own personal touch on every track. A refreshing change from most of the blandness that seems to be filling up the airwaves these days. Enjoy! Geoff Leigh, February 2008" [liner notes from the CD] ZNR adds: It is hard to know what to add since Geoff's insight is keen and it is good to see a player of Geoff Leigh's calibre acknowledging the talent of Markus Stauss! You'll remember Geoff Leigh as the sax/flute/clarinet player on the first Henry Cow album and guest saxophonist/flutist on the first Hatfield & the North album!! So his words are high praise indeed! Michel Delville's guitar playing seems influenced more by the atmospheric explorations of players like Bill Frisell, David Torn and, certainly, Robert Fripp but his technical ability is never in question. There are hints of Zappa & Holdsworth in his sound, too. However the approach is all his own and never seems derivative. Like Frisell & Torn, Delville can play all around an idea and look at it from many different angles. Delchambre's drumming is inventive and always appropriate, laying back when needed and then letting everyone know he's there when the music demands! The unsung hero of this recording might just be Belgian jazz bassist Damien Campion. His playing is powerful and supportive but so imaginative that you want to hear his solo album soon! Certainly he has learned a little something from all the jazz & fusion greats from Mingus to Pastorius to Hugh Hopper but he is inventive and fresh with a monster sound that comes at you in great waves from the speakers! And that brings us to the incredible sax playing of Markus Stauss. I think it is not too much to say that Markus has re-invented the role of the sax in rock/jazz/improvised music and should be viewed alongside players like George Cartwright (Curlew) and John Zorn in this regard. Where Allan Holdsworth always has said that he is trying to make the guitar do what a saxophone does, Markus has approached the problem from exactly the opposite view. While he is certainly informed by the vast history of jazz & improvising saxophonists, his playing takes on the qualities of a rock guitarist in many passages. The power of certain repeated phrases & notes has the effect of reassuring the listener that, no matter how far into uncharted territory Markus might take us, there is still a visceral quality that makes it all understandable and embraceable. This is not to say that this is rock music, but it IS 'rock' music. And it is jazz, new-music, and fusion. It is also adventurous, experimental and incredible!! "More Light" gets our highest recommendation!

This product was added to our catalog on Thursday 16 April, 2009.
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