Holger Scheidt Group – The Tides of Life [TrackList follows] – Enja 9619, 39:13 [2/10/15] [Distr. by Allegro Music] ****:
(Holger Scheidt – upright bass, mixer, editor, producer; Rich Perry – tenor saxophone; Gordon Au – trumpet; Victor Gould – piano; Anthony Pinciotti – drums)
When most people think of autobiography, they probably think of printed matter, such as a memoir. But jazz albums can also be a documentary of an artist’s existence. For example, there’s The Tides of Life, the third release from Europe-based, bassist/composer Holger Scheidt (and his first on the Enja label). Scheidt’s six lengthy tracks (which range from six to over nine minutes long) depict six distinct moods which individuals typically experience. These moods, Scheidt states, are “completely subjective,” and he cites “I am seeking to describe a classic, timeless and universal dramaturgy of human life.” In other words, he’s turned the personal into something collective by recognizing specific moods and translating them outwardly into material which can be appreciated by listeners.
Shared communication is also important for this 39-minute record. Scheidt converses by means of a quintet which comprises tenor saxophonist Rich Perry (his credits include Matt Panayides, Dave Glenn and The Village Vanguard Jazz Orchestra); trumpeter Gordon Au (who has recorded with Danilo Pérez); pianist Victor Gould (he’s collaborated with Wallace Roney and Donald Harrison) and drummer Anthony Pinciotti (who has worked with Lynne Arriale). Scheidt deliberately used this lineup to embrace associations to 1960s quintets by Herbie Hancock and Miles Davis. Scheidt remarks this is his particular favorite era of jazz history, and his fivesome support his vision to craft an aesthetic which manages to evoke that period without mimicking any identifiable LP or group from the sixties. Scheidt’s approach is to go from negative to positive, which is why his CD commences with compositions which touch on “Failure,” “Desperation” and “Rage,” and then move up to “Calm,” “Hope” and “Triumph.” The seven-minute “Failure” effectively echoes the title’s discrete temperament with a melancholy, atmospheric structure which utilizes a descending pattern and rubato pulse.
As with most tunes, there are only two solos. When Perry steps forward, he brings a somewhat turbulent truculence to the arrangement. Scheidt undertakes the second spotlight—ironically, being the leader, he does not solo often on this project—and heightens the darkly emotive resonance. “Desperation” is also a dramatic number. Perry plays stretched, breathy tones on his tenor sax, while Gould does a similar slant with his unfolding piano chords. Au does the first improvisation, his trumpet adding a meditative timbre to the main theme and occasionally changes his sound to a Flugelhorn-esque attribute. Gould’s solo space is also delicate, flowing with latticed notes. The bop-inclined “Rage,” on the other hand, is (not surprisingly) a fast-sprinted cut with a swelling theme, stoked tenor sax and quick-paced drums. Gould and Perry again take the frontline with vigorous extemporizations. Gould is blistering on the keys, while Perry is passionate and heated.
Down-tempo ambiance is the foremost feature on the ballad “Calm,” where a beautiful, engaging theme flourishes via Au’s trumpet; the trumpet is meticulously dappled by Perry’s comparable tenor. Perry’s solo is all elegance and style, vertically lyrical, and nearly elegiac. Scheidt’s solo is meaningful, telling a wordless story related to the tune’s title. “Calm” definitely delineates the peace after the storm. The shortest track is “Hope,” which is a mid-tempo charmer, highlighted by tenor sax/piano unison passages. Scheidt once more proves he has a strong melodic sensibility with a complex and enjoyable focal theme. Gould has the initial solo, where he mixes brilliant chords and keyboard runs. Perry has the second solo, and shapes a concentrated and intent improvisation. Whereas “Calm” has lighter hues, “Hope” is bright, insistent and luminescent. Of course, the most colorful tune is the finale, “Triumph.” There is a fanfare-like principal theme built on persistent piano chords. Since this composition heralds a winning position, there is more solo room for the quintet members. Gould’s improvised foray showcases his interplay with the bass and drums. Then Au enters with a slightly brash posture (as anyone who realizes victory might); Perry takes the reins to pursue a spirited solo moment; and finally, Au and Perry fashion harmony lines in a tight, twinned-horn unity. Scheidt’s latest outing, The Tides of Life, may be bordered by a conceptual framework, but inside that narrative outline listeners will find celebratory material which harkens back to a time of straightforward jazz when memorable themes and intuitive musical chemistry were assured.
TrackList: Failure; Desperation; Rage; Calm; Hope; Triumph.