This trio, comprised of percussionist Burhan Öçal, vibes master Christopher Dell, and pianist Holger Marty is one that creates magical elements from thematic fragments and musical detritus cast off from many cultures simultaneously. For starters, to add to the mysterious nature of composition that crosses musical genres like jazz, classical, improvisational, and ethnic musics, when Öçal adds the Turkish saz into the mix, the result becomes quite literally otherworldly. Also, since the material was composed by the members of this trio for this trio, its organic quality and self-reflecting emotional and contemplative considerations are numerous and varied. There is the nearly pastoral “Hadji” by Dell, where Eastern percussion is set alight by Mantey’s striking collage of arpeggios — all written and played around augmented major chords in tempos that range from march to andante. As in all of Dell’s compositions, there is a theme which is returned to during instrumental flurries, and that’s where he enters, extrapolating from its middle and constructing a solo so sensitive and graceful it’s a wonder the other instruments can return at all. And in Öçal’s “Cigem,” where percussion and a whispered chant by the author create a diadem of rhythmic possibilities for Dell and Mantey, criss-crossing each other across a minor modal figure and coming together in the silence of the hand drum solo, there is the flair of the Eastern world, the old world, touching the modern traditions and becoming liquid in the meld of jazz and improvisation. There isn’t a dull moment on this record; it is full of delight, linguistic innovation, and a kind of mystery not heard enough in these chaotic times. Take it home, take it to heart, and be dazzled.
Burhan Öçal & ChrIstopher Dell
Jazz. Contemporary Jazz