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Noertker’s Moxie: Pantomime in Billville

Here is the last of the Billville trilogy titled Pantomime in Billville from San Francisco composer Bill Noertker, a jazz/avant-gardist under the moniker Noertker’s Moxie. The three albums cover a series of live performances from the previous two decades. This album focuses on tunes from 2014-2020, performed live from the Musicians’ Union Hall in San Francisco.

Like the previous two albums in the series , Noertker’s compositions represent the artist's love of poetry, art, and travel. His appreciation of the visual arts cannot be overstated, which I think informs the musician in his approach to compositional form and his unique take on phrasing and tempo. As with the other albums in the trilogy, alto and tenor sax are featured prominently, but on the first track “Red Eleven”, drums, bass, and flute combine in and creative ways, through varying scales and rhythms. The flute solo is excellent as the rest of the band play in earnest. With “Impractical Joke”, Noertker’s fluid hip swaying double bass groove and Jason Levis’ expert drum work gives the necessary backbone for Annelise Zamula’s fabulous alto sax excursions and Brett Carson’s melodic piano noodling. This is one of the album’s most playful tunes. “Lotus Eaters” has an avant/cool jazz feel with tenor sax (Mas Koga), bass, and drums (Levis) in harmonious sync and off kilter craziness. The tempo slows to a near crawl as the notes scratch and claw at the surface before blossoming in full swing once again. Piano and tenor sax take center stage in the sultry “Pantomime” and on the last track “Telephone Grilled Sardines”, Noertker leaves the necessary space for Joshua Marshall and Zamula to work their magic on tenor and alto sax. The soundscape progresses from fully realized melodies to free form abstraction.

Sometimes melodic, sometimes completely abstract, Pantomime in Billville ends the trilogy on solid footing. It certainly pushes the boundaries of modern jazz.

Track Listing:
1. Red Eleven
2. Impractical Joke
3. Lotus Eaters
4. Pantomime
5. Primary Colors
6. L’Escala
7. the Eel
8. Telephone Grilled Sardines (at the End of September)

Added: March 13th 2023
Reviewer: Jon Neudorf
Related Link: Band @ Bandcamp
Hits: 290
Language: english

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