The New Quartet

The New Quartet brings together four exceptional performers with greatly varied backgrounds to create works that cross musical boundaries and find common ground between different world music traditions.

Peoria saxophonist & flutist Greg Ward is a sideman with some of Chicago’s straight-ahead jazz masters. Israeli violinist Carmel Raz is an experienced chamber musician and soloist in the European classical tradition. The Chicago rhythm section of bassist & guitarist Karl E. H. Seigfried and drummer & percussionist Chris Avgerin anchors many groups on the cutting of edge of both jazz and rock in the city.


Blue Rhizome ICR003

Praise for Blue Rhizome:

Organic and coherent to the novice and the aficionado alike.

The Improvisor
A varied document this, encompassing Celtic-tinged jazz, jazz rock, hard rock and a couple of pastoral pieces where Raz shines. All the group members are very strong. Recommended to jazz fans bored by conventional jazz categories.

It’s almost impossible to believe, but Blue Rhizome was recorded live in one continuous take. The New Quartet expertly and seamlessly glides through avant-garde and jazz fusion ("Fortress Of Solitude"), some thick, caramelized blues ("Interlude I: The Blue & The Black"), and some crunchy rock ("Destroy All Monsters"). The improvisational precision is crisp, and balance of musical styles provides a complex lushness. The New Quartet delivers a virtuoso performance so stunning in concept and execution, it must be heard to be believed.

While it is etymologically implied that the avant-garde looks ahead, being the vanguard of musical development, composer and guitarist Karl E.H. Seigfried and his New Quartet emphasize the many traditions that melt together in the creation of new music. Seigfried's idea of the avant-garde is not that of a radically new beginning, but rather a refined net of traditions with the blues being the primary influence on his musical language. Thus, he chose to name the album Blue Rhizome, thereby underlining the intertwined nature of the music while still paying homage to the blues. (+)

Blue Rhizome is a single composition divided into nine movements, each with its own title, and they reflect Seigfried's refined musical language where jazz, folklore, metal, rock and blues meet to create a singular world of sound.

The opening "Overture" begins with Carmel Raz's moaning violin and Greg Ward's elegiac saxophone recalling Albert Ayler's gospel marches, before settling into a bouncing groove.

"Destroy All Monsters," on the other hand, is an infernal heavy metal hymn showcasing the tight interplay between Seigfried and drummer Chris Avgerin. Part of the idea of this music is to embody different stages of knowledge and emotion, and "Destroy All Monsters," with its aggressive guitar work and hard rhythms, represents the anger that can grow out of apathy.

As a work, Blue Rhizome addresses major existential issues such as death ("We Will All Become Ash") and love ("Sometimes, There Is Love"). The music shifts between full-blown ensemble playing and naked soliloquies, thus reflecting the shifting conditions of human life: from life in social tribes to sole reflections on mortality.

Blue Rhizome is an ambitious effort, but its greatest success is in bringing its many threads together thematically, as well as musically. What it all boils down to is the ancient cry of the human soul that is also heard in the blues: a cry for freedom that can't be bound. It's a freedom that is mimicked in the work of Blue Rhizome that of breaking all musical chains while still being rooted in tradition.

From Chicago comes yet another collective filled with imagination and purpose. Blue Rhizome invokes a mixture of Jazz, Rock, Improv, and Chamber musics. Inspired by the challenges of life, Seigfried uses the "Overture" to to announce recurring themes with a decidedly Folk tinge, with "Underture" summing up what has come before. As a technique, Seigfried uses various connecting interludes that focus on groove and feature each player. The instrumental standout is Ward, an underappreciated force in Chicago, though one gaining increased notice, who shines on "Interlude I: The Blue & The Black." Raz is also impressive on pieces like the understated "A Distant Beauty." Seigfried takes a shot as well on the joyous ditty, "Interlude III: Sometimes, There Is Love."

Angeführt vom Bassisten Karl E.H. Seigfried spielt das New Quartet aus Chicago eine sehr emotional aufgeladene Form des Jazz. Ausgehend von einer regelrechten Gefühlskrise reflektieren die Stücke auf Blue Rhizome die verschiedenen Stadien der Betrübtheit, welches aus dem Wissen um die Endlichkeit des menschlichen Lebens entstanden ist. Ein grosses Thema des Albums auch in musikalischer Hinsicht ist das Überschreiten von Grenzen und das Hinterfragen der eigenen Werturteile. So rückt dieses recht nüchtern präsentierte Werk in seiner stilistischen Offenheit und tänzelnden Schwermut in die Nähe der Post-Rock-Produktionen aus dem Hause Constellation, auch wenn man es in keinem Plattenladen unter “Indie" finden wird. Echte Empfehlung für Offenherzige!