Florian Ross Brass Project
Lilacs and Laughter
Naxos Jazz 86053-2

Manfred Knack, conductor; Florian Ross, piano; Ingolf Burkhardt, Claus Stotter, Eric Vloeimans, trumpets; Christine Chapman, Ruth Funke, French horns; Jurgen Neudert, Nils Wogram, trombones; Ed Partyka, bass trombone, tuba; Ingmar Heller, bass; John Hollenbeck, drums.

In Lilacs and Laughter, young German pianist and composer Florian Ross and his colleagues achieve a remarkable creative balance between adventurous written forms and extemporization. This highly atypical expanded ensemble wisely avoids conventional arrangements and chord-spelling exercises in favor of Ross' thirteen highly challenging originals, which are consistently evocative, atmospheric, and memorable. The ensemble's consistent use of space in lieu of strongly defined chords results in tremendous tonal freedom relative to defined structures. Not excessively chromatic, nor overly concerned with metrics, this very forward-looking music bears witness to the fact that the future of Jazz lies in continued exploration. Original voices in composition are very rare, and Florian Ross stands among them.

By James D. Armstrong, Jr.