BartolomeyBittmann: Dynamo

review bartolomeybittmann x1 cong

Out on jazz label ACT, this new album is prog in the same way that Gordon Giltrap could be prog, in his better moments (which is why Heartsong is so famous and his duller stuff not).

Opener Elefant lays down the pattern: superfast playing of guitar (it’s actually a mondola according to the sleeve notes) from Bittmann, jazz/classical strings from Bartolomey adding a slower and more relaxing melody. (Bittmann also plays violin).

It could so easily be a rather dull middle European jazz — we’ll call it EU jazz, a kind of inoffensive one-size- fits-all music — but they’ve got a real groove, no easy thing for a duo doing this style of music.

Neptun follows and the violin opens, delivering a robust riff in the style of Seth Lakeman, but with an early music sound to it. Groove comes from the cello, laying down a bass line. The violin delivers what would be a monster guitar break were this electric and prog. It’s not the standout track but it is a standout example of the energy of joy the duo bring to their music.

The title track follows and it’s a welcome slowing down after the frenetic Neptun, cello acting as double bass and the violin playing a relaxed if grungy melody.

Haim is more like folk, this time a plucked violin acting as the rhythm section, the cello taking care of the melody before some muscular vocals take it over the Balkans/ Russian Steppes. Viadukt is more classical and sombre, dedicated to Didier Lockwood.

This is out on ACT, 9043-2.

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