Tonus – Intermediate Obscurities I-IV/Texture Point/Cagean Morphology

tonusA New Wave Of Jazz is readying a package of three Tonus albums for release next month. A double-live album called Intermediate Obscurities I-IV and two studio-recorded discs: Texture Point and Cagean Morphology.

Tonus is a rotating ensemble built primarily around the dual-axis of Martina Verhoeven and Dirk Serries.

“Tonus as an ensemble grew out of my Jazzcase residency in 2017,” wrote Serries in an email. “I brought together a sextet to work around a slow piano motif by Martina Verhoeven. The literal translation of Tonus is muscle strength, but in this context defines a musical system that places equal importance on the space between notes. Both definitions apply here as the music is an exercise in discipline and anticipation while controlling the clarity, sustain and effect of each single note played.”

The work is sparse and dramatic. Frequent, sometimes extended periods of quiet (if not outright silence) enhance the impact of each performance. What we get, in fact, is a series of precise, short performances that make up each lengthy piece. (The seven new works sport runtimes between 9:06 and 57:59.)

That is not to suggest that each is a series of solos. There is real interplay at work here. But by slowing it all down, Tonus luxuriates over every single idea.

Intermediate Obscurities I-IV is a double-live album recorded at Jazzcase in Belgium and Hundred Years Gallery in London. The first performance features Verhoeven on piano, Serries on acoustic guitar, Colin Webster on alto saxophone, Nils Vermeulen on double bass, George Hadow on drums and Jan Daelman on flute. The second has Otto Willberg on double bass, Tom Ward on bass clarinet, Benedict Taylor on viola, Cath Roberts on baritone saxophone, Webster on alto saxophone and Serries on acoustic guitar.

Benedict Taylor performs viola with Verhoeven and Serries on Texture Point. Cagean Morphology features Verhoeven and Serries as a duo.

Kevin Press

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