Nuscope

German pianist Kaufmann – born in 1962 and a regular partner of Michael Moore, John Hollenbeck and Jim Black, among others – joins bassist supreme Dresser and drummer Eisenstadt for six compositions, two by each participant, and three free improvisations on Starmelodics, a gently daring cookie of a CD whose release marks Nuscope’s tenth year of activity. Bill Shoemaker’s distinction in the liner notes is spot-on: “there’s jazz and there’s music called jazz for convenience”. Certain ECM piano trio recordings spring to mind as one roams through a piece like “Birdz”, where intermingled elegance and spaciousness permit the music to gravitate almost completely away from tonal centres. But on the following track, Dresser’s “Flac”, angularity and sense of recollection fight a little, the composition oscillating between different poles of attraction with a perennial rerouting of the athematic materials across an ample labyrinth of exactitude. Eisenstadt remains one of the most logical percussionists around, perennially suspended between mathematical clarity and imaginative propulsion, while Dresser paints geometric figurations and infinitesimal dashes with the methodical wisdom of a sage; but it’s Kaufmann’s translucent, discriminating intersections that leave the biggest mark here, a mixture of mature nostalgia and the lucid representation of life elapsing. It’s a mood perfectly captured in the drummer’s evocative “Seattle”, dedicated to Wayne Horvitz and Robin Holcomb, where shadowy discretion barely shrouds long moments of inescapable sadness.

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