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NYC Jazz Record

Transatlantic Quartet – Live in Basel

Pete Robbins traverses the Atlantic Ocean often to present his labyrinthine melodicism to foreign audiences. The title of Trans-Atlantic for this quartet is apt. With the New York-based Robbins so active in Europe, Brooklyn bass guitarist Simon Jermyn hailing from Dublin and guitarist Mikkel Ploug and Toronto native Kevin Brow (drums) living in Copenhagen, this live recording from Switzerland represents a slew of poly-directional location dynamics.

After a string of stellar studio releases, Robbins has turned his attention to the subtle challenge of accurately representing his groups’ performances on disc and Live in Basel is his third consecutive live recording. Jermyn’s unaccompanied introduction to “There There” sets a ruminative tone for a work that gradually unfolds to a harmonically brilliant ensemble sound. The musical connection between Jermyn and Robbins consistently forms the conceptual anchor of these works, with many key moments turning on the bassist’s melodic figures. Likewise, Ploug is a formidable foil for both Jermyn and Robbins – on works like “Hoi Polloi” the saxophonist and guitarist are in perfect sync as they snake through Robbins’ characteristically dynamic rhythmic concept.

Jermyn and Brow consistently present a flexible, robust rhythm tandem, pushing and massaging tempo and dynamics and both members of the frontline always respons with shimmering gestures of melodic invention. The record’s opener and closer, “Eliotsong” and “Hope Tober”, respectively, both serve to define these very mature statements in Robbins’ history as a bandleader and composer, presenting balanced structure and thoughtful arrangements, seamlessly integrated with the quartet’s prescient interactions.