Gershlauer, Fiuczynski, DeJohnette, Garrison, and Mikadze – Mikrojazz! Neue expressionistische Musik

They’ve done it! Again, perhaps, but Mikrojazz!, with the subtitle Neue expressionistische Musik (New Expressionist Music), is the latest, and arguably one of the first, completely microtonal jazz records to come out. With the combined talents of Philipp Gerschlauer on saxophone, David Fiuczynski on fretless guitar, Jack DeJohnette on drums, Matt Garrison on fretless bass, and Giorgi Mikadze on keyboards, Mikrojazz! has all the fuel it needs to develop xenharmonic compositions for jazz. Does it deliver? Yes, it does, but not without a few criticisms of mine. The players take up the challenge of writing and playing jazz in tonal systems that are not native to the genre. That’s an arduous task indeed, and I think they wanted to diminish the surprising, mind-boggling aspect of microtonality by playing it relatively safe, style-wise. Indeed, the songs are all pretty standard jazz songs, if you only take away the fact that they play in anything but in twelve equal divisions of the octave. Most often, the songs will be in a slow to intermediate tempo, rarely hitting chaotic apices, which are often the most cathartic moments in jazz. That put aside, the hourlong record is a fantastic one, and it’s sure to sit atop my heap of experimental jazz favourites. Truly, it’s an album that marks a new step in jazz, which I hope will be followed by many others.

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