The Free Jazz Collective – Mount Meander – Mount Meander ****

By Derek Stone

Along with Jacobson and Leidinger, Mount Meander consists of Karlis Auzins on tenor/soprano saxophones and Thomas Sauerborn on drums. The album opens with a marvelous three-part piece entitled “Sunsail.” Over the course of nearly twenty minutes, it shifts through a multitude of moods, showcasing the versatility and inventiveness of the players. Sauerborn’s elastic rhythms are a highlight here: whether he’s using a bow to draw out evocative textures from the cymbals, or whether he’s simply providing a patient pulse, his percussion work is always engaging. On the second and third parts of “Sunsail,” the players reveal a greater sensitivity, as well as a willingness to let things simmer: Jacobson moves through a series of bowed-out murmurs, Leidinger tinkers and toys with different ways of producing sound (most notably by utilizing the action of his piano), and Auzins uses the soprano saxophone to produce a series of haunting oscillations. This same kind of quiet exploration is equally evident in pieces like “Politeness Is God” and “A Bird in the Hand…,” while the suitably-titled “Motoric Animal” and “Swung” are more visceral in the pleasures they offer, with the former showcasing a Mount Meander that is adrenalized, nervy, and hard to predict. This quartet shows us that there need not be a compromise when it comes to jazz that is both bold and enjoyable to listen to. Here, stunning melodies go hand-in-hand with restless experimentation, and the end-result is music that is endlessly alluring.


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