With his engaging debut as a leader in Time Never Pauses, Chicago guitarist Hans Luchs offers up an intriguing batch of well-crafted originals and two delightfully reinterpreted standards. Luchs brings his trademark sound of polished elegance and understated, but definite passion to this captivating music.
Opening with the darkly hued "Der Lumenmeister," the band sets an intimate ambience that permeates the entire disc. Trumpeter Shaun Johnson's lithe, melodic lines and burnished tones usher in the bubbling and erudite improvisation of Luchs that emerges out of the simmering ensemble play. Pianist Stu Mindeman complements Luchs with his crisp resonant and muscular chords that tumble over the composition's dense, harmonic structure.
Johnson superbly balances an intelligence and raw emotion with his inventive embellishments on the thrilling "Green Deluchs." His expressive performance matches Luchs' refreshingly creative and fervent solo. Keeping with the electrifying nature of the tune drummer, George Fludas concludes with breathtaking and thunderous polyrhythms.
Fludas' hushed brushes and softly crashing cymbals enhance the spirituality of legendary composer, pianist and bandleader Duke Ellington's classic, "Come Sunday." Bassist Clark Sommers takes center stage with supreme lyricism as his strings reverberate with evocative yearning. Through the core of the piece, Luchs' blues-drenched guitar rolls with inspired ardor and vivid eloquence.
Another ballad, "Elizabeth," has a warm lilting melody that the group spontaneously transforms into a spontaneous song of wistful sophistication and vibrant romanticism. Luchs makes his resonant strings chime and ring as he extemporizes with brilliance and a deep poetic sense.
This charming album showcases Luchs' writing skills as well as his superb instrumentalism and band leadership. Although none of the originals are particularly memorable, they are gracefully alluring. And together with the high-caliber musicianship, they make for a pleasantly satisfying listen.
Time Never Pauses is a promising freshman effort from a superlatively talented and imaginative artist who is at the threshold of a distinguished career.