Moritz von Oswald Trio
The Moritz von Oswald Trio is back. First album in six years. New line-up, two-thirds of the trio replaced. It’s amazing how the name-player in the trio is almost never the star, just the constant; the conduit. The music filters through him – indeed his electronic processing of the music, the little granular tweaks and twists he gives to help shape it are in the end the sound of the trio, but he relies on the work of others to provide the opportunities.
It’s almost hard to believe it’s been six years since Sounding Lines – an album so fresh, so spiritually soothing, so otherworldly, that it feels brand new every time I listen to it (and I still listen to it a lot!) But the big addition to the trio for that record was Tony Allen. His elasticated drumming was the pulse for the record and provided the feel and flow. Allen is gone now (R.I.P.)
For this new album – and therefore this new sound, this new band – enter drummer Heinrich Köbberling, a jazzer who isn’t trying to replace the irreplaceable, but traces nicely around the architecture of what Allen brought to the trio. Köbberling offers more shimmer, more light, and winningly gives some real syncopated shade to these recordings – throwbacks to late 90s club acid-jazz one minute, an even deeper dive back to 70s fusion the next.
And joining Moritz and Heinrich is the musician Laurel Halo. She’s a polyglot and a polymath with her own brilliant career (I love her work). So to hear her here, rocking back on the Wurlitzer organ or electric piano is akin to hearing Keith Jarrett or Chick Corea, but only when they were part of Miles Davis’ fusion supergroups. Indeed, Dissent bubbles up into being in much the same way that Miles’ In A Silent Way subtly creeps into place. Silent Way has long been an ambient-jazz touchstone, and it’s a crucial comparison figure here.
But the von Oswald Trio can’t hide from infectious bounce. And as the album flows through its various parts (12 tracks, a ‘Preface’ and ‘Epilogue’ bookending 10 ‘Chapters’) by Chapter 5 we are in full dynamic swing. The swirling darkness will return (Chapter 6) and there’s murkiness and a very filmic set of sound-designs throughout (Chapter 1, Chapter 10). The album tells its story across an arc that uplifts then fades gently from view. Starting In A Silent Way and ending up back there, via all manner of organic, ambient techno delights.
I love this band. Any of the versions. But this one is a keeper. Fingers crossed anyway. Brilliant, beautiful, transportive album.