JON HEMMERSAM – Remembering The Future
Danish guitarist Hemmersam fronts a supergroup featuring Michael Jefry Stevens, Dave Liebman, Ken Filiano and Rakalam Bob Moses (for the ones who just came back from Uranus: piano, reeds, double bass and drums respectively). It’s an extensive trip containing a few morsels of exciting music, especially when the ensemble rolls down the greener hills of free-jazz, places where the leader does not hide a Sharrock-like attitude while churning out incinerating-yet-clean lines amidst the companions’ educated wreckage of quietness. Lyrically skewed interplay and dissonant soloism are also parts of the recipe, and it’s during the latter that this ever-grumbling listener barks a bit. When Hemmersam increases the speed of those runs, his precision on the fretboard tends to suffer, making him sound a less gifted instrumentalist than he actually is; Filiano’s “sing-along-the-line” recurrent approach is a trait for which I have become slightly intolerant (not this particular bassist’s fault of course – it’s something that gets taught in every damn jazz school on the earth, a genre’s commonplace if you ask me). If one overlooks these minor inconveniences and the infrequent segments defined by lesser inventiveness, there’s still a nice lot of potentially inflammatory materials to be enjoyed.
JON HEMMERSAM & MICHAEL JEFRY STEVENS – Dear Jonas
This all-acoustic duo comprises a three-part composition replete with improvisational issues (“The Amber Suite”) and four additional tracks more or less revolving around the same characteristics. In such a type of context, we can definitively highlight what in Remembering The Future was not immediately evident: Jon Hemmersam is a player that does not exploit predigested licks and worn-out tricks, which in the smoky world of jazz guitar is a major compliment. Sometimes he recalls John McLaughlin – the real one, not the aging stand-in who toys with horrible samples and holiday postcard Eastern singers; there is a quest for some kind of spiritual light in the overall sonic picture. The will of walking paths leading far from formulas is clearly detectable, and Stevens technically impressive figurations on the keyboard appear as austere statements of confirmation, still endowed with the seductive qualities that a fine pianist should always possess. The title track and the gorgeous “Andrea” are my favourites, the sense of “melody with a purpose” defining the interaction between two artists who are glad of being able to transmit balance and positive vibes. Impulsiveness under check, attentive reciprocal listening switched on. The whole translates as “absolutely respectable record”.