Emotion and reflection in Jeff Platz’s music on #neuguitars #blog
Photo by Rob Miller.
“Some art aims directly at arousing the feelings; some art appeals to the feelings through the route of the intelligence. There is art that involves, that creates empathy. There is art that detaches, that provokes reflection. Great reflective art is not frigid. It can exalt the spectator, it can present images that appall, it can make him weep. But its emotional power is mediated. The pull toward emotional involvement is counterbalanced by elements in the work that promote distance, disinterestedness, impartiality. Emotional involvement is always, to a greater or lesser degree, postponed.”
Susan Sontag, Againts Interpretation and Other Essays, pag. 177
I read and reread Susan Sontag’s words while listening to Jeff Platz’s music. There is something that fascinates me in Sontag’s text, dedicated to Robert Bresson’s cinema, something that I think fits the music played by Platz, avant-garde jazz guitarist, operating between the two creative poles of Boston and New York. Platz is a skilled, technically and musically well-trained musician. His music moves between the double aspects marked by Sontag: it involves me, creates empathy and, at the same time, produces reflection. It is not just about techniques or means, but about ideas. New York continues to be one of the attractions of the avant-garde and experimentation. A place, a cultural incubator in which you can continuously be reborn and free all your expressive potential. Jeff Platz seems to have made full use of this situation, especially within the groups and in the many collaborations highlighted in his curriculum, developing a job as a leader of his own projects, opening up to an even more articulated world, exploring a very wide radius of projects. He found four albums in my archive. The first, “Neu Cabal” was released in 2016, an album produced in quartet with Daniel Carter (saxophones, clarinet, flute, trumpet, piano), Dmitry Ishenko (bass) and Dalius Naujokaitis (drums and percussion).
“Theory of Colors” was released in 2019, featuring Stephen Haynes (cornet), Damon Smith (bass), Matt Crane (drums). Joe Morris’ notes, accompanying the cd, talk about: “There is a lot of groove in this music, all of it expressed with great concern and artistry, but not only as a formal solution meant to solidify the music. Instead it is often used as a color or a setting that is open to the interpretation of the players. And they allow their vivid imaginations and skills to reconfigure the value or meaning of it. They do that with all the other elements in play. For instance, there are melodies, tonal centers, and interactive roles that are all dealt with creatively and never in a predictable way. There are sounds made with electronics and acoustic techniques that are upfront and also the background, in the lead or in support. The many different sub-groupings and solos always allow for something new to happen, so every improvised shift in orchestration signals a chance to change the content completely. In this regard, this recording plays like a suite, or a story told in sound, with all the depth and adventure it can muster.”
“Pebbles & Pearls” is also produced in 2019, great work shared with Dirk Marwedel (saxophone), Jörg Fischer (drums) and Georg Wolf (bass).
“With Orbit”, made with Max Goldman (drums and percussion) and Brendan Carniaux (saxophone, clarinet) was released in 2021.
Jeff Platz is a musician who bases everything on performance, his music represents a continuous flow of ideas that are never fixed in any way or in any part. His music plays like an orchestration, where the improvised elements are welded together with complete efficiency. They overlap, they subtract. The interplay between musicians is always perfect, very relaxed, aware and fluid. There are no sharp edges and abrasions, everything happens in a sense that sounds perfectly logical and organic. Platz always shows total respect for the Form, even when he plays solo, as in the excellent “Yo como solo”, released in 2020 and in “Singularities” (2021).
Two truly remarkable albums, where not a single note is out of place. Platz always manages to maintain a perfect balance between intensity and moderation, between melody and pure sound.
The audio is very accurate and allows you to capture every nuance of the frequencies generated by the strings and effects. Too bad they didn’t come out on CD, because I would have gladly bought them. It is music that induces reflections, which functions as a sensory stimulant, and to which we must return several times … even at different times. Jeff Platz takes nothing for granted, demonstrating a remarkable artistic maturity; his is a rich narrative, managed with skill and a sense of measure: melody and noise, sound and space, composition and improvisation, accelerations and pauses, lights and shadows, everything is perfectly managed. Platz is a musician to discover and deepen. Highly recommended.