John Tchicai, alto sax, percussion; Karsten Vogel, alto sax, percussion; Max Bruel, baritone sax, piano, percussion; Kim Menzer, trombone; Hugh Steinmetz, trumpet; Steffen Anderson, bass; Ivan Krill, percussion; Giorgio Musoni, percussion, Robidoo, congas.
Heres’ the uber rare debut album from John Tchicai’s remarkable workshop ensemble Cadentia Nova Danica. This group’s important work has been buried under the careless avalanche of history to such an extent that it’s now regarded as an almost mythic curio for collectors, instead of a Rosetta Stone for creative big bands. Like its successor, Afrodisiaca, it represents a path not often taken in jazz. (See our entry on Afrodisiaca from about a year ago.) Though Braxton’s large groups and William Parker’s Little Huey Orchestra both conjure similar melds of song and sturm, what Tchicai and Co. created forty years ago remains singular.
Where most albums easily offer up a representative track, this one is more stubborn. It’s difficult to appreciate the compositional strategies, dynamic swells, and interlocking rhythms and melodies from a single tune. The sum is truly greater and all that. So we’re presenting the first side of the album and hope you’ll absorb the tunes as a suite. The melancholy “Inside Thule” veers between spare soundscapes and woozy-but-fiery declamations. The brief “Lilanto Del Indio” serves as an interlude, showcasing a simple folk melody, stomping piano solo, and conga interjection. There’s plenty of action in the extended “Kirstin,” but don’t miss the moment when the infectious brass vamp gives way to a jaw-dropping one-note drum solo. Its monomaniacal insistence is somewhat reminiscent of Neil Young’s great one-note guitar solos, or maybe The Shaggs caught in a lock-groove.
While we don’t think this scales the Kilimanjaro-like peaks of Afrodisiaca, it’s still a remarkable album that needs to be more widely heard. Hey, Atavistic/Unheard Music Series — somebody, anybody – reissue this!
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Clifford Allen wrote up this album in tremendous detail at Paris Transatlantic a few years ago: check it out.
An old issue of The Wire featuring John Tchicai mentions a Cadentia Nova Danica album called Live at Aarhus. Anyone know anything about that one (assuming it’s not just the above by a different name)?
Tchicai has a new album, just out from Leading Tone, featuring a former student of his, Paul Hemmings. You can hear samples here.