Zhenya Strigalev - alto saxophone
Tim Lefebvre - electric bass
Eric Harland - drums
Bruno Liberda - electronics
Matt Penman - double bass
John Escreet - keyboards
Alex Bonney - trumpet
Charles Armstrong - voice
Recorded at Golden Retriever Studio, Berlin, Nov. 2015
Engineer - Arno Shumann
Edited and mixed by Alex Bonney
Mastered by Peter Beckmann
Produced by Zhenya Strigalev
Executive Producer - Michael Janisch
released April 1, 2016
ABOUT THE ALBUM
Russian-born, London-based alto saxophonist Zhenya Strigalev follows up his 2015 Whirlwind sextet release Robin Goodie with his new trio project Never Group. Recorded over two days in Berlin with the rhythm section of electric bassist Tim Lefebvre and drummer Eric Harland – as well as welcoming guests such as keyboardist John Escreet, double bassist Matt Penman and trumpeter Alex Bonney – Strigalev’s desire with this different focus is to fashion the unexpected and the fleeting (alluded to in the project name) both from his own original compositions and the contributions of respected Austrian electronics composer/musician Bruno Liberda (who also appears on this recording).
Building a reputation on both sides of the North Atlantic for his adventurous and impassioned emphasis on improvisation, Never Group is an experience that matches quirky abandon with resolute musicianship and technicality. As Zhenya confirms: “No other rhythm section sounds like Eric and Tim; I like their chemistry together – and I wanted to collaborate with them to record a chordless trio album which gave me more freedom, so I could further expand my musical language.” In an hour-plus abundance of 20 tracks, Strigalev and colleagues elicit bristling spontaneity, from the rasping percussiveness of ‘Bio Active’ to ‘Strange Party‘s’ grungy swagger; from the echoic, electronically-manipulated mystery of Liberda’s ‘Bassgeigengeister’ and ‘Heimwehharfe’ to the raw, boppy mischievousness of ‘Some Thomas’ and playful, grooving ‘Snail’.
The trio’s studio jam sessions covered some four hours, so this album’s choice performances – punctuated throughout by succinct, exploratory codas mostly characterised by Harland’s precision drumming – offer a glimpse into the leader’s impulsive creativity and this close-knit trio partnership’s unfettered realization of his imaginings. Strigalev enjoys the challenge of shining a light on the undiscovered, and describes the desired on-the-edge thrill that unfolded from these sessions: “The whole point of what I do is that I need to surprise myself; I don’t want to record something which sounds exactly like this or like that, because that’s not interesting enough to me. Sometimes I can simply feel a tempo, a mood or an atmosphere, and I know this trio will provide the opportunity to develop that.”
"A typical Strigalev collision of hip jazz virtuosity and surrealism... Strigalev's alto displays bebop agility, shivery lyricism, or sometimes a bluesy Ornetteish swerve."
★★★★ The Guardian
"An addictive mix of colourful vignettes... Strigalev's group could well be the next big thing in jazz."
★★★★ All About Jazz
"A maverick at the heart of modern jazz."
★★★★ The Telegraph
"Compelling in its inventive energy... [Strigalev] is an artist who knows jazz's lineage but is unafraid to create his own path."
★★★★ All About Jazz
"Another impressive artistic statement from Strigalev... Plenty of colour, variety and intelligence."
★★★★ The Jazz Mann
"An abstracted theatre of sound and experiment... ranging from 21st century bop to spooked jazz improv via deep-funk."
Sandy Brown Jazz
"A stellar team presents much fine music."
"Delightfully anarchic sounding grooves from the ingenious Tim Lefebvre and Eric Harland."
"Addictively and explosively dynamic...one of the most exciting contemporary composers."
"A big fat slice of determinedly hip Euro-American boundary-pushing jazz/fusion/whatever...Lefebvre is rapidly becoming known as one of the most creative bass guitarists working today, and Harland is simply a powerhouse of ideas..."
"Mr Harland is the check-point, stamp and go... His snare drum is a crack-shot, the toms fall on the ears like tight tuned hammers, the bass drum blocks a deep-beat, doubles it, even triples the bottom."
Sandy Brown Jazz
"A surreal, impressive brew."
★★★★ Jazzwise Magazine
"Post-jazz drum and bass grooves navigating a post-industrial electronica landscape."
Bebop Spoken Here
"Strigalev is a musician bursting with ideas and with energy... Lefebvre and Harland are a monster rhythm team and the whole thing has an envigorating bustle."
The Jazz Breakfast
"It’s the tumult of ideas from the main players, plus Strigalev’s puckish humour, that leave the listener exhilarated and exhausted an hour later."
"There’s certainly no denying the energy and urgency of the music and the brilliance of the playing... Evidence that Strigalev is one of the music’s most original thinkers."
★★★★ The Jazz Mann
“Stylistically diverse… An unpredictable mixture that somehow fits together despite all the contradictions and variations.”
“A fresh wind blowing through jazz fusion, peppered with a number of high-quality ideas.”
“A wild and impetuous free jazz soundscape full of wit… Captivating.”
"Exceeds its own potential and leads the listener to a state of euphoria."
"An album full of groove, energy and spontaneous creativity."
Digitale Jazz Zeitung
"A breath of fresh air through jazz-fusion, liberally laced with intelligent and interesting ideas."
Musik an sich
"Breathtaking virtuosity, endless inventiveness and adventurous material."
"Audacious and passionate emphasis on improvisation."
"An exploration of sonorities providing much audible pleasure."
"Intoxicatingly expressive... A complex, harmonious world of melody."
"Music played with commitment."
"A tight, tight power trio... a recording not to be missed."