Till Brönner / Dieter Ilg ‘Nightfall’ (OKeh) 4/5

An intriguing pairing of bass and trumpet/flugelhorn might not at first seem appealing, but this is a duet that works and is at once a moody and intimate evocation recording. A melancholic feel permeates the album, speaking of interminably long winter evenings.

Both musicians have gained useful experience collectively and separately on the enterprising ACT label, but have now moved on to major label OKeh where they now nestle comfortably alongside the likes of Bill Frisell. Divided up between contemporary and classic covers on the one hand, and originals on the other, there is much to admire here and a genuine warmth to the rapport between the two instrumentalists. On the opener, ‘A Thousand Kisses Deep’, the vulnerability of the trumpet sound is showcased, with fine bass line work that brings the two together. For Lennon and McCartney’s ‘Eleanor Rigby’, the modal bass intro and muted Harmon operate wonderfully in tandem and this is a most inventive take on a well-worn classic. Western classical music forms part of the interpretations with J.S. Bach’s ‘Air’, a perennial favourite of jazz musicians. Here, the flugelhorn takes the lead, with bass following, and this is a very different interpretation from other jazz readings. An adventurous version of Ornette Coleman’s, ‘The fifth of Beethoven’, opens up the space, as piano and bass might, and indicates what an unusual combination the trumpet and bass are operating together. More reflective tones are adopted on the ballad, ‘Body and Soul’, with a Chet Baker-esque solo from Brönner and sensitive bass accompaniment. While this is their debut album for OKeh, it is far from their first recording together and this is an accomplished set that bodes well for future collaborations.

Tim Stenhouse