The Floating Jazz Festival, which takes place aboard the Queen Elizabeth II (previously held on the SS Norway), has been a regular source for outstanding live sets on the Chiaroscuro label. These excerpts from performances by Junior Mance and Joe Temperley are no exception, as they devote an entire program to works by Thelonious Monk. Accompanied by the highly in-demand young bassist Peter Washington and grizzled veteran drummer Mickey Roker, they've got a couple of surprises in store.
Arve Henriksen's follow-up to his first solo CD, Sakuteiki, Chiaroscuro sees him exploring the same ethereal pastures, this time accompanied by sampling artist Jan Bang and percussionist Audun Kleive. As a result, the album has of course a fuller, busier sound, although the increment is discreet. Slightly closer in style to the softer moments of Supersilent, the album remains nonetheless the recognizable successor of Sakuteiki. Henriksen's trumpet is the heart and soul of the music, uttering simple slow-paced themes and lonesome calls. The artist sings wordless melodies, his falsetto voice becoming an extension of the trumpet, instead of the other way around.
Following on their highly acclaimed debut album, the period instrument Chiaroscuro Quartet returns with another recording of chamber music of the classical period. Their approach, firmly committed and imaginative, fits particularly well with the trail-blazing works on this recording. In its day, Beethoven's famous ''Serioso'' quartet was considered avant-garde and experimental. Mozart's Adagio and Fugue is a veritable lesson in the art of counterpoint - rich with dissonance and brilliant in its subtle complexity and inventiveness.
Chiaroscuro at once has the feeling of inevitability and a sense of randomness about it, as if it were meant to happen, yet it's such a long shot that it ever did. Towner, the guitarist of the jazz/world/new age outfit Oregon, is an American who celebrated his 70th birthday in the year of this album's release, 2010 – it's his 22nd for ECM. Fresu is an Italian trumpeter, not quite 50, whose only previous ECM connection (among some 300 albums he's appeared on in all) came in 2007 when he worked with pianist/composer Carla Bley on her release The Lost Chords Find Paolo Fresu.