A soundtrack to one of those knock-down-the-fourth-wall theater pieces made popular in the USA in the sixties and seventies by the likes of Richard Foreman and Herbert Blau, Pendant la Nuit is (according to Lotz's liner) "about a fateful night of a couple joined in their living room by a little girl from White Russia and a Finnish jazz band; us."
The Eric de Vroedt theater piece isn't lingered on much more than that here, but the music is muscular, atmospheric and, as usual from Mark Lotz, stellar. New keys player Edwin Berg recalls Lyle Mays in his ability to let notes breathe, do their work on the listener's mood, and fade away. He is very ably cushioned throughout (especially on the meditative "6 Pendant la Nuit" by drummer Frederic Jeanne, a fellow with as good an understanding of musical space onstage as ever Jon Christensen had (he was a house drummer for ECM in the 1970s and 1980s, I recall).
Second percussionist Alan "Gunga" Purves adds a Third World voice to the mix, and Lotz, as ever, wields an estimable selection of flutes and melodic hooks (first time out of the mailing envelope, I played the opening, highly Stravinsky-esque "Cowboy Game" eleven times in a row before I went on to the next track).
I reviewed a previous CD of Lotz's in the November 2003 Jazz Now (Pum'kin Diaries, Lop Lop Records) and can't say enough good about this one either. No wheels are reinvented or made rounder, but the music (despite its standing as a soundtrack) exists on its own quite well, sometimes ambient, sometimes drifting through various sonorities and landing thud on a scrap of dialogue ("Tongue Resonance"). You will listen for and find hidden depths.
Berg's lonely melodica livens "Charlie's Bossa" with a certain Left Bank ambience (the long day is over, the slight sense of loss around every corner) and in the following version of the same track for the full band, Eric Surmenian steps out for a quick, witty eight on acoustic bass.
I'd have liked to have heard more about the play, but at least the music that wrapped it made it this far across the Pond; sad to say, in the views of some corporate jerks and what they think Americans will like, the Pond seems to get wider every time I look.
by Ken Egbert
Copyright Jazz Now, September 2005, all rights reserved.
Jazz Now Interactive September 2005 Vol 15 No. 5 - Table of Contents