Album reviews

Quinsin Nachoff – ‘Stars and Constellations’

Quinsin Nachoff – ‘Stars and Constellations’
(Adyhâropa Records. Album review by John Ferguson)

It is clear on listening to Toronto-born, New York-based saxophonist/composer Quinsin Nachoff’s latest album ‘Stars and Constellations’, a complex and at times challenging work, that he approaches orchestral jazz composition with both seriousness and an eye for detail, and also a sense of adventure.

Throughout the three long, sometimes atonal pieces that make up the album, there are some interludes where the jazz musicians step forward, such as Mark Helias’ acoustic bass motif part way into the opener ‘Scorpio’, or Dan Weiss’ percussive interlude during the third piece ‘Sagittarius’, or indeed, Nachoff’s own tenor sax interventions. There are patently many ‘jazz’ moments, and yet this music rarely sounds like jazz ensemble work, but instead has the ambition to let architecture and the shaping of extended structures be the main purpose.

This preoccupation is important, and yet Nachoff has a substantial jazz pedigree, having recorded with the likes of David Binney, Nate Wood, Matt Mitchell, Kenny Wollesen and UK legend John Taylor. This album isn’t the first time Nachoff has ventured into the world of orchestral composition. His 2006 debut ‘Magic Numbers’ featured acclaimed classical violinist Nathalie Bonin and she was soloist on his ‘Violin Concerto’ from his last release, 2020’s ‘Pivotal Arc’.

Pivotal Arc’s title piece was an undoubted precursor to ‘Stars and Constellations’, but this time Nachoff has ‘upscaled’ with 53 minutes of full-on “orchestral jazz”. He has used two string quartets, the Rhythm Method and the Bergamot Quartet, alongside his jazz trio. Nachoff’s music is a fresh and lively take on integrating jazz and classical, via ultra-modern and stimulating composition.

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Author John Ferguson co-promotes live music at SoundCellar in Poole

‘Stars and Constellations’ is released on Adyhâropa Records today, 13 October 2023

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