Simon Rummel Ensemble

Im Meer
Umlaut Records UMFRCD-22

An instance of what could be called the new minimalism, Im Meer is a leisurely elaboration of keyboardist Simon Rummel’s composition by 11 handpicked Köln-based improvisers who were encouraged to alter tempos, harmonies, counterpoint and the like as the

30 minute plus piece evolved. The result floats fluidly and airily but without negating the musical rigor the lies beneath the surface.

Tier-born Rummel has worked as a cantor and organist at a Protestant church; done theatre work, taught at Jazz schools and had his recorder concert premiered by the Bochum Symphony Orchestra. Im Meer reflects aspects of this mixed background, as its slow unfolding initially depends on an admixture of flute, recorder, harmonium and melodic textures, whose movement is not only leisurely slow, but almost ecclesiastically processional. Eventually, as the sequences speed up, strangled horn timbres subsumed by tremolo outpourings create contrapuntal atonality reflected in alto saxophone bites, clarinet puffs and tuba lowing. Interjections, including drum-top splashes, brassy harmonies and a stringent sprint from the violin, reach a crescendo that never lapses into atonality, while remaking the melody as lighter, faster and almost swinging fare. Eventually drum clip-clops, bouncy tuba blows and heraldic brass challenge with parade-ground-like rigor the still audible and evolving harmonium-flute-record undercurrent. Contradictions are resolved in the penultimate minutes, as first tuba than clarinet, following closely by the other massed horns, reprises the fluid theme, with the resulting union cannily wrapping up the piece in a single musical strain.

Although its pace sometimes suggests that Im Meer is lengthier in performance than its timing, that’s actually a plus since the asides, interjections and extensions add the piece’s acceptability. Now that Rummel has outlined his version of minimalism, how about taking a stab at a maximalist Jazz-Improv composition?

—Ken Waxman

Track Listing: 1. Im Meer/Offshore

Personnel: Udo Moll (trumpet); Matthias Muche (trombone); Carl Ludwig Hübsch (tuba); Lucia Mense (recorder); Joris Rühl (clarinet); Georg Wissel (alto saxophone, clarinet); Simon Rummel (melodica, glasses); Oxana Omelchuk (harmonium); Radek Stawarz (violin); Michael Griener (drums); Ketonge (voice, effects)