Flautist Christian Artmann has released his recording “Uneasy Dreams.” The recording features Jeff Hirshfield, drums; Johannes Weidenmueller, bass; Rubens Salles, piano; Elena McEntire, voice and Luiz Claudio on percussion. It was recorded, mixed and mastered at Systems 2, Brooklyn, NY in October 2010 and March 2011.
First of all, Christian Artmann is a wonderful jazz flautist. The opening “free” track at only less than a minute long doesn’t do justice to Artmann’s abilities showcased elsewhere on the recording. The second song and Artmann original displays a very capable instrumentalist in Artmann. This hard-swinging Next Steps allows the group the opportunity to play within a musical structure, which allows plenty of musical freedom along the way. I personally love the unison between Artmann on flute and Rubens Salles on piano at the beginning and end.
Artmann is credited with playing flute, alto flute and tambin. Surely I will have to educate myself as to which instrument(s) has chosen on Kafka. Each sound he produces sounds as though it belongs in the flute family, yet with electronic effects or processing. I love the sounds – just can’t identify them. Kafka, also by Artmann attempts to explore “a simple 5-note pattern – its layers, ripples and unsettling logic.”
“Uneasy Dreams” is peppered with “free” recorded performances along with compositions by Artmann, Guinga and Pascoal. Most of the free recordings are short in length – almost transitional pieces. The free, title cut Uneasy Dreams by contrast is almost 7 minutes long. Some free music, lacking preconceived structure, tonality or other traditional parameters can be difficult to listen. Here and elsewhere on “Uneasy Dreams” Artmann and his group retain good, solid musical values and musicianship while limiting their restrictions at the same time.
The haunting On a Sentimental Flute is a lovely ballad. It presumably references the Ellington standard In a Sentimental Mood. Other than a few seemingly similar short melodic passages, the similarity ends there.
The bass and flute octave unison begins Steps Beyond. Weidenmueller on bass and Hirshfield on drums swing confidently as Christian Artmann weaves a solo full of cascading lines. Artmann’s lines flow, yet they are never predictable.
Elena McEntire’s vocals, paired with Artmann’s flute make for an eerie and interesting combination. It is difficult not to make comparisons to the sci-fi sounds of the 60s. Whatever comparisons may or not be made, McEntire’s vocal pairs well with Artmann on flute.
The final cut Easy Dreams, although listed as “free” is very melodic and compositional. It is a testament to Artmann and his ensemble’s ability to play freely, without barriers. They can do this all while making the outcome very listenable – not something commonly found in free and especially avante-guard music.
Readers can find more about Christian Artmann at http://artmannjazz.com/