Michael Naura Quartet: Call

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It’s a sobering thought that three of the contributors to this strongly wrought and altogether entrancing album are no longer with us, while the fourth – Eberhard Weber – hasn’t played a note since the serious stroke he suffered in 2007 (although he has released three surpassing albums of “meta-music” on ECM, Resumé, Encore and Hommage).

Perhaps Naura’s finest album, with all the compositions his, Call was the German pianist’s first recording in eight years, following a lengthy period of recovery from polyserositis. The session is splendid testament to an era when classically tinged European reflection and American heat could meld as fruitfully as the long-classic triplet feel of jazz and recent rock accents (“Soledad”), and spontaneous improvisatory verve (parts of “Mary” and “Miriam”) inflect what at times is a near-pop sensitivity to matters of narrative bite and dynamics. The freshly conceived organic whole is underpinned by a potent feeling for the blues, exemplified by the gospel-like “River” and the measured ostinato figures of the deeply soulful, even mesmeric, title track.

As Ed Motta points out in a short but useful addition to the original sleevenote by Siegfried Schmidt-Joos (both printed in German and English) while one might think that the Fender Rhodes and the vibraphone are too close to each other sonically to make effective partners, Naura and Schlüter interact to telling and uncrowded effect. Their sensitive use of electronically enhanced sound conjures a rhythmically captivating series of dream-like textures and mood: relish the mix of rubato reverie and freshly conceived propulsion in “Soledad” and “Don’t Stop” or the kicking swing of “M.O.C”; the spaciously cast lyricism of the arco-underpinned “Garden” or the 6/8 groove of the Latinate “Mary”. Throughout, Weber and the excellent Nay –  who didn’t play together regularly with Naura – are deep in the pocket, now driving, now caressing music which is very much of its time and yet, in good part, archetypal, timeless. Ars longa, vita brevis, indeed.

Discography
Soledad de Murcia; M.O.C.; Forgotten Garden; Take Us Down to the River; Why Is Mary So Nervous? Don’t Stop; Miriam; Call (40.19)
Naura (elp); Wolfgang Schlüter (vib); Eberhard Weber (b); Joe Nay (d). Villingen, 1971.
MPS 0212827 MSW