Between The Lines

To avoid confusion, Minerva is the name of a trio whereas Carlo Costa – a Roman drummer residing in the US since more than 9 years ago – is its nominal leader, though he prefers referring to himself as a person who “takes charge of the logistic aspects” of what’s considered a “true collective”. He’s absolutely right, as comrades JP Schlegelmilch (piano and glockenspiel) and Pascal Niggenkemper (bass) are fundamental in sustaining a sonic concept that makes strength out of a concise lucidity with conviction and discriminating ears. Saturnismo is a fine record, ten pieces – some composed, other improvised – where each member suggests, listens attentively and receives a definite quantity of significant information to push an initial impression towards development. An admirable will to circumvent the stereotypes of jazz is manifest, the work informed by a welcome non-resemblance to models.

A functional aspect lies in the contrast between the almost mathematical linearity of certain intuitions – often running parallel in interesting superimpositions of mildly dissonant melodic materials and fragmented tempi – and an occasional light poignancy. This ability of getting to the point without summoning up all the energies – call it “clever restraint” – is a major plus. The disc needs a number of spins to be absorbed, hiding concentration and refinement – even stretches of quietness when necessity calls – behind the corners of silent investigation. Not a typical “in-your-face” statement, then, but the effort of three musicians interested in explained meanings and answered questions. Despite an obvious technical grounding, flexing the biceps is – much refreshingly – left to someone else. Minerva play music that one wants to hear again.

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