Tenor and soprano saxophones, Hammond organ, guitar, drums: Maxime Bender and his Universal Sky quartet from Luxembourg have joined CAM JAZZ’s roster of musicians with a lively, energetic, diverse and, above all, intense album. Bender proves to be a real mine of inspiration, sounds and ideas. Through mostly original tracks, he and his fellow travellers weave a fabric of timbres that turns from intangible and airy like an echo (Holocene) into energetically pure in the intermittent rhythms and contrasts between the sax and the other three instruments (Missing Piece). Bender can also perfectly alternate and balance purposely written ensemble obbligatos with solos and improvisations working as the hub of a track (Infinity, Glow). As tracks are performed, he has the ability to constantly change registers and roles among the quartet-members, throwing open windows onto the most different sonic landscapes designed each time by his sax, Manu Codjia’s guitar and Jean-Yves Jung’s Hammond organ (Fly). And he delivers small poetic masterpieces, such as Dust Of Light, in which melody and harmony merge into a soft cloud pervaded by a sweet, continuous sound. The cohesion of the quartet is absolute: Jérôme Klein on drums weaves ever-changing plots that enhance the perfect work of the ensemble. Universal Sky is a panorama of sounds to be contemplated all by oneself for a while: all time well-spent.
Recorded in Cologne (Germany) on 16 - 19 April 2017 at Topaz Studio by Reinhard Kobialka
Photos by Atelier d’images - Sven Becker
Cover photo by Elisa Caldana
Liner notes by Brian Morton