Erik Hove - Saxophone, flute, clarinet
Anna Webber - Flute
Krisjana Thorsteinson - Oboe
Bradley Powell - Clarinet
Andy King - Trumpet
Josh Zubot - Violin
Thomas Quail - Viola
Jane Chan - Cello
Remi-Jean Leblanc - Bass
Evan Tighe - Drums
Erik Hove is a Canadian musician that came to my attention via Anna Webber, who plays flute in his Ensemble, and who recently released an excellent disc of her own, SIMPLE. His ten-piece group features a jazz rhythm section married to a small contemporary chamber ensemble, and as he states, “explore(s) a synthesis of contemporary compositional concepts with current ideas from jazz and improvised music…”
Hove composed all the selections and plays woodwinds on Saturated Colour. It took me a minute to get used to the unusual harmonies he uses, but once I acclimated I was all in. It reminds me a little of Steve Lehman’s Octet, and no wonder, as both Lehman and Hove have been influenced by the spectral techniques of composers such as Murail. Both Hove and Lehman play alto, and both have a tart, angular style. But Hove definitely has his own take on the spectral school, with more pastel shading to his music and a more impressionistic approach vs. Lehman.
The spectral influence does result in that unique shimmering sound that I noted in my review of Lehman’s Mise en Abîme, and as I listened to Saturated Colour I had the feeling of being held in suspended animation. Hove makes beautiful use of the combination of woodwinds and strings in the arrangements, such as on the track Ascending. There’s a slight third-steam influence here as well, which I really dig, but without the stiffness or stuffiness that is sometimes ascribed to that movement.
This is an intriguing CD whose subtle charms reveal themselves through repeated listens. At times it sounds as if it might veer off into Gil Evans-influenced big band territory, but then Hove will throw in a curve ball to prevent things from getting too comfortable.
Enigmatic, in a good way.