By Denise Sullivan | Published November 2018
A wonderfully wild, moody, collaborative and improvisational set by Spanish composer Eva Novoa’s Ditmas Quartet was recorded live during the summer of 2016 at Brooklyn’s IBeam, home to experimental and innovative new works. Opening with the pensive “Déjà Vu,” its escalating intensity lent by Novoa’s piano and drummer Jeff Davis, there’s something familiar about the quartet’s approach to free-jazz, at once feeling its 20th-century origins and free of them. Contrasting with Novoa’s striking and inventive playing, saxophonist Michaël Attias lends his arresting style to the set’s stand-out performances: the haunted and dramatic “Enough,” the angular study of “Why You Here” and the pleasantly quirky “Yela.” Bassist Max Johnson stands out on “Walk On The Moon,” as he keeps it floating on the solos until Davis finally tips in and the quartet brings home the set’s penultimate and climactic number.
For the final mood piece, “Lines And Dots,” Novoa’s gong contributes to the dark and somber effect—an unusual way to end a show and an album, but then, Novoa’s Ditmas Quartet is anything but usual, and that’s exactly what makes it so compelling.
Live At IBeam: Déjà Vu; Enough; Why You Here; Yela; Walk On The Moon; Lines And Dots. (39:52)
Personnel: Eva Novoa, piano, Chinese gong; Michaël Attias, alto, baritone saxophone; Max Johnson, bass; Jeff Davis, drums.