While it does not scream downtown, avant-garde, uber originality, guitarist Hans Luchs debut recording, Time Never Pauses, is far from a vanilla, "jazz as style" offering, and, in fact has much going for it.
For one thing, his band, consisting of drummer George Fludas, bassist Clark Sommers, pianist Stuart Mindeman and Shaun Johnson on trumpet is extremely tight, precise and, in many spots, smoking. Luchs does not dominate the session, and is part of the rhythm section for long stretches. Each player is given a chance to shine, and they deliver, including Luchs himself who continuous avoids the commonplace licks and lines.
Luch's compositions and arrangements share the very attractive quality of mixing a light, bouncing and airy melody with a darker bass/rhythm vamp, producing an sense of ambiguity and a hint of danger or tension. While the band can flat out swing in the normal sense (see the opener "Der Lumenmeister" and "Green DeLuchs"), most of the time the melodic instrument of the moment (trumpet or guitar) plays with the rhythm and phrasing, keeping things interesting.
The arrangements are "transparent" in the sense that the proceedings always sound natural, with sectional changes having the sound of experience and much playing together, rather than something worked out ahead of time and charted. The only minor quibble is that most of tracks are in standard ABA form (intro/declamation, improvisation, recap), making the one track that does not follow this, "Hello Janssen" jump out.
Yes, there are a couple of more straight ahead tunes ("Taylor Street Swing" and "January Spring") that aren't trying to be anything but what they are, but for the most part, the music has just enough unpredictability to pique the ear and mind. There is a freshness, likability and the sheer joy of playing here that produces a desire to listen closely rather than letting the music slide into the background.
The two standards, Duke Ellington's well known "Come Sunday" and Cole Porter's lesser known "Get Out Of Town" (see here for a version by Ella Fitzgerald), are given interesting arrangements that delve deep into the core of the tune.
For sure, there is a lot to like and to get into on Time Never Pauses.