Ken Thomson – “Sextet” (New Focus Recordings, 2018)

“Sextet” is a new release from “New Focus Recordings”. Album was recorded by “Ken Thomson Sextet” – it’s Ken Thomson (alto saxophone, compositions), Anna Webber (saxophone), Russ Johnson (trumpet), Alan Ferber (trombone), Adam Armstrong (bass) and Daniel Dor (drums). Sextet’s compositions are based on the artsy, creative and effective synthesis between academic avant-garde, experimental music and avant-garde jazz. Ken Thomson masterfully varies through different moods, expressions, playing techniques and instrumentation’s decisions. Minimalism, serialism, dodecaphony, expressionism, post-impressionism, electronics, the intonations of spectral, concrete and sonoristic music, the newest tendencies of contemporary academical music and experimental decisions of instrumentation – these and many other elements are gently combined together with contrasting and absolutely different elements. The most part of his compositions is formed and arranged as a free improvisation. Even though composer likes to fuse together strict and traditional forms, usual playing techniques or other elements of tonal or atonal music, he’s also lefts many space for free improvisation, fascinating musical experiments and search of weird and innovative sounds. The musical language is based on especially wide range of rhythms, sounds, expressions, forms and other elements of musical language. The reason of exceptional and remarkable sound of Ken Thomson’s music lays in the masterful ability to mix togetherquadratic form and free improvisation, repetitive and simple minimalism and difficult rhythmic structures, simple, monotonic and static rhythms who grow straight to roaring, rapid, thrilling and sharp energy explosions or dizzy solos. The elements of contemporary academical music, main tendencies of experimental, electronic music and academic avant-garde bring bright, attractive, free and passionate sound of Ken Thomson’s music.

“Sextet” is filled with passionate, moody, dynamic and glamorous sound. The compositions have all the main elements of specific and unique somposer’s style and are based on fusion of jazz and contemporary academical music. Open form, free structure are mixed together with the elements of traditional forms of classical music. It has strict bars, stable rhythmic, quadratic structure and firm harmonic and rhythmic basements. The contrast between these conceptual elements of musical language make an  organic, bright and evocative sound. Compositions are arranged with passion and emotion – there are heard many impulsive, expressive, bright, luminous and effective solos, which are filled with engaging and innovative musical decisions. The main principe of Ken Thomson’s music is revealed here – masterful fusion between composed music and free improvisation, contemporary academical music and bright, evocative, harsh and gorgeous free improvisations, provocative, complicated and sharp bebop, hard bop and post bop solos, the elements of progressive and contemporary jazz styles. The compositions have an effective sound, gorgeous background, dynamic, solid and independent rhythmic section and rich, expressive and modern musical language. All these sections are ranged professionally and creatively – composer mixes together all kinds of different playing techniques, expressions, rhythms, timbres and sounds to make an extraordinary, unique and inventive sound. All the elements are mixed together in the most effective, natural and organci way. The music is very moody and dynamic – it’s filled with spontaneous and emotional solos, turbulent, energetic and passionate free improvisations, bright, fascinating and astonishing sounds, innovative playing techniques, traditional and specific scales and bordering dynamics. Polyphony, polythythmy, various chords, timbres and expressions are used together silmunateously. Because of natural fusion of classical and open forms, music has difficult and innovative structure. Despite of that, the most part of the compositions are more similar to free improvisation and avant-garde jazz than to strict, regular, serious and stable academical music. Free, dynamic, passionate and spontaneous improvisation gives a main tune and energetic mood to the compositions. Here together mixes joyfuland sorrowful pieces, thrilling and hot solos,passionate and expressive melodies, remarkable, extremely rapid and virtuosic solos, bright and vibrant improvisations, dozens of unusual timbres and innovative,experimental, traditional and specific playing techniques. Musicians masterfully get together all these elements – they make an organic joint and artsy fusion of absolutely different music styles and its elements. Pleasant surprises, gentle and light reeds, roaring, loud, bright and luminous brasses, subtle, moving and touching bass and tremendous drums section – all kinds of timbres, sounds, melodies and free improvisations have its own place at the musical pattern. That makes an effort to gorgeous, innovative, modern, evocative and bright sound of this album.

8 thoughts on “Ken Thomson – “Sextet” (New Focus Recordings, 2018)”

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