Free Fall ~ Amsterdam Funk
Given the group’s name and its instrumentation, the association with Jimmy Giuffre’s epochal chamber jazz trio is unavoidable. The homage is deliberate, but partial as Free Fall play nothing but original compositions. Amsterdam Funk comprises 13 pieces of stark, frequently dramatic music. The lack of percussion serves to cast a tightrope shadow upon proceedings, but the resulting tension is leavened by sudden, playful passages. An ominously deep piano chord marks the beginning of Accidents With Ladders, only to be succeeded by Vandermark’s jaunty clarinet. Four minutes later Vandermark’s solo climbs upwards and stops suddenly: the title of the piece is thus musically evoked with fine wit. Although their contributions are remarkable, Vandermark and Flaten should need no introduction, but the lesser-known Wiik is a revelation, playing one moment with a vivid intensity, the next with the utmost delicacy. Each player’s solos are often conducted against a backdrop of silence. Accordingly, Amsterdam Funk feels like a deliberate exploration of space as much as of melody or time. It’s a bewitchingly beautiful album. Highly recommended.