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Charlotte Greve
Sediments We Move Marthe Lisson , October 11th, 2021 07:46

Composer and bandleader Charlotte Greve wraps the listener in a deeply surprising sonic experience, finds Marthe Lisson

Sediments We Move might be alto saxophonist and composer Charlotte Greve’s debut album, but she is certainly not a newbie on the jazz scenes, whether in her native Germany or her chosen US home town of Brooklyn. Greve has been leading the jazz quartet Lisbeth since its inception in 2009. They have released four albums and won two Jazz ECHOs, the German equivalent to the Grammys. Since 2014 Greve has also been leading the Brooklyn based four-piece-band Wood River that presents jazz-inspired alternative pop-rock. Additional projects in New York include the alto saxophone quartet Asterids and the trio The Choir Invisible.

Sediments We Move brings together a myriad of influences from Greve’s past and present musical explorations, including long time collaborators like Wood River and Berlin-based choir Cantus Domus, with whom Greve first collaborated in 2017. Like different layers of a cake she serves (free) jazz, ambient, metal, noise, rock, and choral music – at times all in one composition. Just like the layers of the cake, enjoyed as a whole, the genre-fluid compositions make for surprising sonic experiences.

‘Part I’ starts off ambient: a floating alto sax, discreet synths, the drums playing freely on the cymbals. A solo electric guitar emerges, accompanied by the female voices of the choir, and a few minutes later the drums crash in and the whole composition becomes almost metal. The voices retreat into a circular pattern. Greve likes circular patterns and movements. And suspension. We encounter Greve singing solo on a light, up-beat alternative pop song. A multitude of whispering voices at the end of ‘Part IV’. The ‘Interlude’ is metal, noise, free jazz chaos, before it evolves into a soothing, calm ambient melody. ‘Part IV’ is an a capella piece reminiscent of Gregorian chorals. Out of this world, stand still. ‘Part V’ gives room to a grooving bass, majestic choir, straight forward rock, beautiful melodies, solo sax, and solo electric guitar.

Sediments We Move is an ambitious and intense record that oscillates between quiet, almost sacred passages and vigorous, almost chaotic ones. Despite the very different genres the music never sounds fragmented; each phase is long enough for the musicians to explore the genre, to pick up motifs and melodies, and to develop them. Sediments We Move is one grand flow of music, which, perhaps, is the only downside to this wealth of musical influences – I do not remember the individual compositions as much as the overall sound. This doesn’t obscure Greve’s incredible talent; her mature compositions are well directed and intentional. She did not get lost in the material; she is in control and made it her own.