German composer and pianist Florian Ross has released a new album “Reason & Temptation” on April 6 on his own label Toy Piano Records. This time it is with his quartet featuring
- Florian Ross: Steinway D Grand Piano
- Sebastian Gille: Tenor & Soprano Sax
- David Helm: Bass
- Fabian Arends: Drums
The quartet was in the Deutschlandfunk studio in Cologne to record Florian Ross’ latest large ensemble project “ARCHITEXTURE” involving 7 woodwinds and a Jazz quartet when it turned out that the last day of the production wasn’t needed. After a week of hard work of bringing very structured and detailed music to life (Reason), the quartet spontaneously decided that they wanted to use the extra time in the studio to ‘just play’ in quartet (Temptation). Florian Ross knocked together some of his favorite unreleased pieces as well as an old Ralph Towner favorite and the band went for it. The album is a fantastic collection of seven group improvisation pieces and six songs.
The album starts with “Progress Report”, the first of those originals from Florian. The solos by saxophone and piano are free and both soloists get excellent support by drums and bass to increase their dynamics during the improvisation. Rather special and very “wooden” is the saxophone sound, but I like it very much.
The next two songs “Dandelion” and “Ignorance is Bliss” are group improvisations. “Dandelion”, dominated by piano and saxophone, starts in a very ambiguous mood, but has a beautiful and atmospheric ending. “Ignorance is Bliss” is a dialog between saxophone and bowed bass with some soft support by piano and drums.
“Rondo #4″ is the next original by Florian and this song is my absolute favorite. A superb melody and a gentle swinging band make it also the most conventional song on the album. Nice solos by piano and bass.
The album continues with two more group improvisations titled “Shallow” and “Teriyaki Terrier”. “Shallow” begins as a dialog between piano arpeggios and bass. Calm drumming and just a little bit of long saxophone notes are added. “Teriyaki Terrier” features Sebastian Gille on saxophone, an interesting dialog between bass and saxophone develops which is extended by drums and later piano.
“Reckoning” is the next song, another original by Florian Ross, played very straight with a neat melody and beautiful solos by Sebastian Gille on saxophone, Florian Ross on piano and David Helm on bass.
“Celeste” by Ralph Towner comes next. This gorgeous ballad is played very sensitive and gentle. Another highlight on the album.
“Make a Swish”, another group improvisation is the next tune. The piano starts as a fugue and stays rhythmically in that mood. Dynamics increase and the tune becomes darker to the end.
“Broomstick” is the next composition by Florian Ross. A heavy modulating theme and a groove that switches between Second Line and Latin for the saxophone solo and Swing and Latin for Florian Ross on piano. Great piano solo where Florian shows that he masters his tune and allows himself room for rhythmic freedom.
“U.A.F.” is the next group improvisation, the bass takes the lead here and piano and drums support him. The tune ends in a dialog between a steady bass and saxophone with little drums support.
“Reckoning” is coming next, we heard a straight version before and this alternate version is much more open and free. Very interesting to compare the two versions.
The album ends with “Fever Dream”, a group improvisation that begins with a piano in ambiguous impressionistic style and natural sounds like birds singing. The mood changes but at the end the piano returns to the impressionistic sound and the album ends in this ambiguity.
“Reason & Temptation” is an an intensive album, 65 minutes of demanding music. The main characteristic is the variation between composed and improvised tunes which makes the album scenic, rich in contrast and diversified. With excellent compositions and outstanding musicians you have a perfect album in your hands. Please take your time and let this music in your ears, your mind and your soul.
An album teaser has been published on youtube:
More information about Florian Ross can be found on his website:
And finally the complete album on Spotify: