Free-thinking composer, arranger and drummer Ferenc Nemeth presents a highly original journey documenting human experiences and emotions of triumph, purpose, joy, longing, hope, sorrow, and wishful thinking. He associates with technically skilled and versatile players, including Joshua Redman (saxophone), Kenny Werner (piano), Lionel Loueke (guitar, voice) and others.
Redman’s grace is satisfying as Nemeth explores new rhythmic territories. A six-minute offering like “Longing” presents an evolution from its percussive genesis to Werner’s introspective pleasures and Redman’s melodic contemplations. At about the same length, the musical conversation of “Purpose” is both smooth and substantive. I was especially fond of “Joy,” which was both sensitive and expressive without being derivative. All the musicians establish a wonderful groove, emphasizing freedom and creativity.
Loueke’s guitar and voice make profound statements here and there, with “Interlude I” being an especially poignant showcase for his strings. Nemeth and Loueke have had a strong and productive musical association for about a decade, having performed and recorded together in such ensembles as the Lionel Loueke Trio and GilFeMa. “Interlude II” is a discourse between percussion and sax, while “Interlude III” is solely drums. “Interlude IV” is introspective piano without being maudlin or banal.
“Sorrow and Wishful Thinking” are presented as one track approaching 10 minutes in length. The spacious Nemeth arrangement allows the soloists to shine, emotions to flourish, voices to add moodiness to the mix, and predictable paths to be resisted. Nemeth’s pulsating music presents optimism as it floats with influences of bop and mainstream jazz forms, perhaps even some ethnic tints of Nemeth’s native Hungary. Most importantly, the pace, textures, and layers on Triumph are well-managed, evenly controlled and keenly structured. For Nemeth, this is an intriguing landmark album. It’s a great platform which demonstrates his conceptualizing, composing, arranging, producing, and playing brilliance.