Dock In Absolute

(CAM Jazz)

A quirky name, an unusual home base and an aesthetic centered on deep melodicism are all factors that make Dock In Absolute an intriguing band.

On its sophomore album, Unlikely, the Luxembourg-based trio—Jean-Philippe Koch (piano), David Kintziger (electric bass) and Michel Mootz (drums)—walks the tightrope between high drama and attention-seeking bombast without ever slipping into the faulty side of that divide. The all-original program here includes eight Koch compositions, one by Kintziger and another that the pianist and bassist wrote together.

Fond of quicksilver tempo shifts and sonic dynamism, bandleader Koch helps the material lope, sprint and morph gracefully, but avoids the pitfalls of flabbiness and excess. “Night Train To Lipetsk” barrels along in muscular fashion, building drama, segueing into a section in which Kintziger’s authoritative bass subtly slides to the forefront, then shifts into a solo piano segment before snapping back into a full-band flurry, spiked with Mootz’s skittering cymbal work. The longest tune—the gorgeous, seven-minute “Floating Memories”—features some of Koch’s best work, as he delivers an arresting, memorable melody and later provides pithy, upper-register coloration.

Somewhat like British trio GoGo Penguin and pianist Hiromi’s trio, Dock In Absolute is fueled by drum patterns that owe more to rock than jazz, resulting in songs like “Borderline” and “No Plan B” that seem destined to resonate with festival audiences.

The outliers in the Unlikely program are “Drawing Light”—Kintziger’s captivating solo bass tune—and the closer, “Tangle Borders,” a layered track that incorporates touches of dissonance in the form of a recording that sounds a bit like a police dispatcher’s radio transmission.

The band’s democratic interplay will be showcased on stages around the globe in 2019, with gigs at the Jazz in Daegu Festival (Aug. 18, in South Korea), the Odessa Jazz Festival (Sept. 22, in Ukraine) and the Kolkata Jazz Festival (Dec. 1, in India). At press time, the band only had one U.S. date scheduled: Aug. 10 at the San Jose Jazz Summer Fest in California.