Review: Clint Allen, Martin Fondse, Zapp4 – “Impulse”

Review: Clint Allen, Martin Fondse, Zapp4 – “Impulse”
ITG Journal, Vol. 38, No. 2 (January 2014)
(Brian Winegardner, Charlotte, NC).

impulse review

Australian-born trumpeter Clint Allen, a recently-named Bach Artist and Clinician, currently directs the University of Queensland Big Band.  He was awarded a 2011 Churchill Fellowship to study contemporary trumpet performance techniques from leading practitioners of crossover music in Amsterdam, London and Paris. Produced in 2012 with funding from the Churchill Fellowship Trust, this album is an intriguing venture into contemporary composition and avant-garde performance practice that strives to merge modern jazz with classical sensibilities. Every work in this recording is a new composition written specifically for this CD. The performing ensemble used is highly unusual; it combines the trumpet and piano with the Amsterdam-based Zapp 4 string quartet. The pieces presented in this recording are truly chamber works, with no member being used exclusively in either a background or solo role. Allen’s tone is warm and beautiful, and he blends very well with the ensemble around him.

His sound soars above the ensemble when appropriate and provides a colorful backdrop when it is not the musical focus. The strings, piano, and trumpet all present technically impressive and musically tasteful improvisations that blend smoothly with surrounding material.  The improvisation for Surfarara where the violin and trumpet both simultaneously move into the stratosphere of their ranges is particularly exciting. A number of fascinating musical effects, both percussive and timbral, are presented throughout the album, particularly in Crystal Quiet No.1 and Crystal Quiet No.2. Impulse’s compositions incorporate elements of contemporary jazz, minimalism, and experimental performing technique. The disc does not come with liner notes, and it would be interesting to learn more about the inspiration behind the album’s compositions and the types of extended techniques used in their performance. This is an intriquing recording for anyone interested in contemporary performance and classical/jazz crossover music .