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An alert, voluble alto saxophone soon joined by a bouncy double bass and drums, this is how the trio of Luxembourg’s Roby Glod and Germany’s Christian Ramond and Klaus Kugel presents itself from the outset.

This is followed by a calmer piece in which it’s the soprano who offers a seemingly fragile sonority that meanders deftly and fluidly along angular melodic lines, while the rhythmic pair accompanies it in two kinds of parallel solos.

The trio’s aesthetic is halfway between bop and free music, with all three players contributing equally (in fact, all the compositions are by the trio, apart from the second slow theme by pianist Connie Crothers, a disciple of Lennie Tristano).

This may seem a strange choice for a trio with no harmonic instruments, but it reflects an adventurous approach to thematic material, in which the influence of Lee Konitz, another Tristano disciple, can be recognized. If the melodic choices may not seem obvious to the untrained ear, the approach is never dry, and it’s the sound of each instrument and the original way in which they intermingle their playing without fitting into the soloist/accompanist scheme that makes this highly musical recording so interesting. Glod‘s sound on his two saxes is a delight from start to finish, and it’s hard to explain the rarity of this musician, now in his fifties, who was once heard with American bassist Michael Formanek as well as Frenchman Louis Sclavis.

Bassist Christian Ramond, in addition to an impressively solid foundation, possesses a full sound and a highly flexible delivery, both pizzicato and bowed.

As for Klaus Kugel, with whom Ramond has worked in a number of contexts, his drumming is both polyrhythmic and frequently melodic, and he displays a sense of dynamics that greatly invigorates the work of his companions.

This is a truly fascinating trio, and one that is eminently rewarding to listen to, if you’re prepared to take the plunge and follow in their footsteps.

Line Up:

Roby Glod: alto and soprano sax

Christian Ramond: double bass

Klaus Kugel: drums

No Toxic was released by Nemu Records on January 1, 2024

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