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Bite !

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Mark Alban Lotz and Lotz of Music: Bite!

Jazz has brought many innovative and original approaches to the world of music, but an entire album inspired by fish could well be a first. Flautist Mark Alban Lotz's Bite! offers 19 tracks of fresh, entertaining and uplifting music inspired not just by fish, but by "a dutch view on fish," a combined video and music project. Bite! is a joyous work. The quartet's musicianship is consistently excellent and conveys a clear feeling that the players had fun during the recording. The sleeve notes and track titles also convey this sense of fun. Alan "Gunga" Purves makes use of a range of percussive instruments including the Brim Bram, an instrument of his own design based on a wooden frame with attached rubber bands, which is helpfully pictured on the cover. Tune titles name check the Clownfish, Squid, Royal Herring and Seahorse, among others. "Get Along with Mating Squids" blends Lotz's flute and Purves' percussion in a splendid evocation of squids mating: "The Bathyscaaf," in contrast, features Lysander Le Coultre's cello to beautiful effect while "Oops Swallowed" is a more free-form and rather disturbing piece.

Lotz makes particularly effective use of the bansuri flute, while Albert van Veenendaal's prepared piano helps create the underwater feel of tunes such as "Jellyfish Lullaby." At times Lotz's classical roots are more obvious than his jazz ones, but this helps to add variation and contrast. He has previously declared his intention to bridge the jazz and classical worlds and on much of this album he succeeds admirably. The absence of a standard drum kit or bass also helps Bite! to sound fresh and unusual, the fluidity of the bowed cello lending itself more readily to the intended atmosphere of the album.

Nineteen tunes inspired by fish may not seem like a great idea for a jazz album, but Bite! is a beautifully performed, often tongue-in-cheek and always intriguing CD.

Track Listing: Corny Water Music; Habidi Brown Fish; Chasing the Clownfish; Fish Jive; Get Along with Mating Squids; Going Down; Fields of Garden Eels; Bite!; Tell Me Everything; Oops Swallowed; Electric Eel Lullaby; Waiting for Prey; Of Royal Herring; In Love?; The Bathyscaaf; Seahorse Duet; Jellyfish Lullaby; Coral Lives!; This Fish.

Personnel: Mark Alban Lotz: c flute, alto flute, bass flute, pvc contra bass flute, prepared flute, bansuri; Albert Van Veenendaal: piano, prepared piano, samples; Lysander Le Coultre: cello; Alan "Gunga" Purves: brim bram, assorted percussion.

Record Label: LopLop Records | Style: Beyond Jazz
(By Bruce Lindsay, All About Jazz, July 14, 2009)

Bite !

MARK ALBAN LOTZ & LOTZ OF MUSIC: Bite! MODERN JAZZ – Oh, how awesome is this... music composed for a Dutch multimedia project about fish. It's fun, unpredictable, and loaded with unique sounds including prepared piano, PVC flute, and a rubber-band thingy they call a "brim-bram." The longer tracks are more melodic/jazzy, the short tracks have an avant/improv feel. Very cool.

* * * * | All tracks good. Fo's Picks: 1, 2, 7, 12, 13, 15

1. 2:39 – splashy/perky... then cool stroll with big bassline & funny squeaks
2. 4:50 – laid-back groove & percolating flute riff, relaxed round of jazzy solos
3. 0:20 – circus-like interlude
4. 0:42 – low and bubbly, with murmuring vocal sounds
5. 5:23 – upbeat 5/4 tune: happy flute goes to town over catchy rhythm
6. 0:50 – prepared piano and liquid deep-sea atmosphere
7. 2:17 – exotic: dual flutes weave gently over a deep reverberating rhythm
8. 0:51 – the sharks are circling... creepy!
9. 6:10 – floating, bittersweet; burbling percussion, crescendo in the middle
10. 1:08 – weird organic gurgles alternate with sedate piano
11. 1:30 – strange metallic wobbles, steady flute floats thru, unperturbed
12. 4:51 – pvc pipe "flute," tick-tock rhythm, mysterious with mounting tension
13. 3:34 – scattered rhythm, comic sounds come together in a prideful way
14. 1:23 – slow chamber melody over wet clattery sounds & ululations
15. 4:24 – splashing & gongs, then flowing cello & flute melody... really nice.
16. 3:28 – slow-motion flute & cello pas de deux, well done
17. 2:10 – slow, careful melody with many exotic sounds around the edges
18. 0:45 – an amorphous blob
19. 4:43 – calm, lyrical, dignified with just a hint of mystery

(Fo, KZSU Zookeeper, March 5, 2009)

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