Tru Cargo Service

Dear Passengers
Tiger Moon Records TMR 007

Picking its way through the boundary that separates contemporary Jazz from free form improvisation is the Berlin-based Tru Cargo Service quartet. Taking elements from each, this performance of guitarist Torsten Papenheim’s eight compositions avoids the more obvious musical landmines, but with a line of demarcation that leans more towards safety than searching.

Young veterans all, Papenheim has composed for larger ensembles as well as worked in smaller units with the likes of drummer Merle Bennett. Tenor saxophonist Alexander Beierbach has been part of the Hannes Zerbe Jazz Orchestra and smaller combos. Beside collaborations with visual artists and dancers, bassist Berit Jung has worked with the likes of Matthias Schubert sand Els Vandeweyer; while drummer Christian Marien plays with Z-Country Paradise, and the Zerbe big band among others.

Slow moving at the start with expressive guitar licks carefully harmonized with mid-range saxophone breaths, Jung’s lopping bass line and drum ruffs keep the theme repetitions pressing ahead. The programs picks up considerably with the three middle tracks as new ideas are introduced. “Efsane” for instance features a pseudo-Latin beat from Marien, as Beierbach slurs out the melody with a sense of abandon and the guitarist shakes theme variations from his strings. The same sort of reed slurs are present on “Esfahan, Tennessee”, while Papenheim’s exposition is propelled by slack fingered Hawaiian-guitar-like twangs until, the piece eventually opens up into a languid double bass feature. Even better is “Mitscherlich’s Zoo”. With a creeping, atmospheric narrative built on echoing guitar frails and a walking bass line, the drummer gets a chance to highlight his cross-handed percussion control and the saxophonist breaks up the flow with jagged, altissimo bites. Finally chiming guitar vamps and double-timing drumming presages a saxophone-expressed mellow finale. With the remainder of the CD, encompassing folk-like and frolicsome themes as well as harder drumming and more repeated riffs, propulsion dwindles slightly.

This CD is a reasonable first effort. But a bit more zip and determination next time out may offer these Dear Passenger, and listeners, a more stimulating trip.

—Ken Waxman

Track Listing: 1. Special teeth profiles shifting 2. Harry’s Truman 3. Melancholy Grandeur 4. Efsane 5. Mitscherlich’s Zoo 6. Esfahan, Tennessee 7. Interstice 8. Selected Characters

Personnel: Alexander Beierbach(tenor saxophone); Torsten Papenheim (guitar); Berit Jung (bass) and Christian Marien (drums)