Claudia Ulla Binder - Piano
Christian Weber - Bass
Dieter Ulrich - Drums, Bugle

BOX's Ten Variations on an Unknown Theme is a collection of improvised projects curated by Swiss bassist Jonas Tauber. With such a title the caliber of free jazz they play, set in a modern composer's back yard is no surprise.

The trio's take off point is this "theme" usually consisting of disjointed, spiky drum parts accompanied by off-kilter piano and bass melodies. With numbered variations being the groups chosen mode of presentation the album makes for a delightful listen through, as the album progresses it gets stranger and stranger.

Variations 1 through 4 are each in their own way elegant trio compositions, albeit avant-garde. Loud-quiet dynamics play into the trio's style as each one snaps in and out of the listener's attention at almost lightning speed and for short, disciplined amounts of time. 5th Variation is very wiry. Here the group is using the very outer edges of their instruments Binder's piano sounds alien while Ulrich trades his kit for undulating bugle bursts. Bassist Weber picks up all the rhythm, or what little shreds are available. After track 5 the album becomes noticeably more textured. 8th Variation explores a more solemn mood for the group and the 9th a drunken marching suite.

BOX's exploratory intermission serves to create two halves of an album, that is, one which jangles along just inside the fence of typical free piano-trio music, and another which embraces the area beyond that boundary as a home.


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