2015 Top 10s & 20s
Roomful Of Teeth

David Arend
Artificial Intelligence
Nimrod Borenstein
Randal Collier-Ford
Julien Demoulin
Denki Udon
R. Nathaniel Dett
Dwiki Dharmawan
Yair Etziony
Marina Fages
Francesco Di Fiore
Flowers for Bodysnatchers
From the Mouth of the Sun
Markus Guentner
Momenta Quartet
Music Komite
North Atlantic Explorers
Prequel Tapes
Alessandro Stella
Swarm Intelligence
Robert Scott Thompson
Trigg & Gusset
Aino Tytti
Andy Vaz
We Mythical Kings
Sebastian Zangar

Compilations / Mixes / Remixes / Reissues
Dub Phizix
Stacey Pullen
A Simple Procedure
Tour De Traum X

EPs / Cassettes / DVDs / Mini-Albums / Singles
Big Phone
Great Panoptique Winter
Mute Forest
Thee Koukouvaya
Joshua Van Tassel

Trigg & Gusset: Adagio for the Blue
Preserved Sound

Trigg & Gusset traffics in a deeply aromatic blend of noir-jazz on its sophomore effort Adagio for the Blue, the title itself a succinct encapsulation of the album's tone. In contrast to the improv-based character of the group's 2013 debut outing Legacy of the Witty, the new one's rooted in formal compositional structures that still allow for soloing and improvisation. Though Trigg & Gusset is comprised of Bart Knol and Erik van Geer, it's Knol who's the more dominant contributor, given that he arranged and produced Adagio for the Blue's material and is credited as the sole composer on five of the ten pieces (the others are credited to both members). Yet while the multi-instrumentalist contributes keyboards, synths, beats, electric guitar, and samples to the recording, it's van Geer's woodwinds (flute, bass clarinet, tenor saxophone) that often take the lead.

The two do a commendable job of simulating a live jazz quartet, given the fact that Knol assumes the role of pianist and drummer on most tracks. As a pianist, his light touch calls to mind someone like Ahmad Jamal, and it's an approach that complements the late-night feel of the material. While “Vanishing Gold” and “The Vault” feature the duo only, the typical album track features the two augmented by others: the group's smoky music is never more compellingly presented, for example, than on the opening “Intimate,” an aptly titled exercise in late-night melancholia that sees the leaders' bass clarinet and piano ably supported by double bassist Dominique Bentvelsen and acoustic guitarist Midas Ghijsels. As silky and enveloping as the backdrop is, however, it's van Geer's haunting lead playing that's the most striking component (Ghijsels is later given his own moment in the spotlight when his Flamenco guitar playing is featured on “Tortuga”).

Much of the album is downtempo, but there are livelier tunes, too, among them “Madagascar,” whose comparatively spirited acoustic jazz groove receives a spike of energy from the playing of trumpeter Coen Hamelink, and there are moments on “Rhododendron” that evoke the laid-back splendour of Kind of Blue, especially when the front-line consists of van Geer's tenor sax and Hamelink's trumpet. An occasional classical influence also seeps into the album, a case in point the brooding, Satie-like piano figure Knol threads into the ponderous rumination “The Vault,” and with Knol's electric guitar conjoined to van Geer's tenor sax, the slinky groove of “Promenade” oozes an undeniable Badalamenti vibe. Such moments indicate that Adagio for the Blue should interest those whose taste runs to The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble and Dictaphone.

December 2015