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Hal Hill
Jazz Canadiana, January 2000

Trained at the Cologne Conservatory, pianist Florian Ross has already had a busy career both as a performer and composer for large orchestras, film, and theatre. On his debut recording with tenorman Matthias Erlewein, trombonist Nils Wogram, bassist Dietmar Fuhr, and drummer Jochen Ruckert, he presents an array of ten original compositions, all strongly in the post-bop mode. The polished interaction among the musicians is evident from the opening "By Any Means Necessary" with the tenor solo building on the integrated framework laid down by the quintet. Solo spots are special - the powerfully stated trombone work on "Ology Elegy", Florian's harmonically rich handling of the theme with "Sea Greene", the tenor's abrasive and sinewy core to the lyrical "In Case You Haven't Heard", the piano/trombone energy that takes us into "Clapham Junction", the delicate bass lines that carry us through "Winteraire". The liner notes confirm that "One of the primary tasks of a bandleader is to choose the players who will best breathe life into your music"; Florian Ross has chosen well.

David Dupont
Cadence, August 1999

"This is one fine session."

Eastern Daily Press, July 1999

"This may be Ross's debut recording but it has all the assurance of a veteran"

Roger Thomas
Gramophone, July 1999

"...But by far the best is the Florian Ross group. Ross studied under John Taylor, a fact which shows through not only in his judicious piano style but also in his obvious skills as a composer and arranger, which steer the music away from the mire of homogeneous Eurobop and into the realms of inventive and original small-group jazz."

Jazzwise, June 1999

(four stars) "...the variety of moods obtained is striking and Ross is clearly an effortlessly inventive player. A good example is the piece the composer claims "represents my feeling towards jazz", oddly titled "Clapham Junction".

The Jazz Report

"Pianist-composer Florian Ross may be the most interesting jazz musician to come out of Europe in quite some time. As a student of John Taylor's at the Cologne Conservatory, he won several awards as an improvisor as well as a number of composition prizes, including the BBC Big Band Competition. Seasons And Places is an excellent showcase for his boundless energy and that of his terrific sidemen. Highly recommended."

Don Williamson

"Many American jazz musicians who spend time collaborating with European counterparts invariably state that some of the most challenging and innovative jazz emanates from outside of the United States. Those musicians should be in a position to know. And a cursory review of what's happening in the U.S., what with retreads and reinventions of Ellington and Monk, gives support to the argument about invention coming from other countries besides the one where jazz arose.

That's not entirely a true statement when listeners accept the new languages and explorations of musicians like Ben Allison, Don Byron, Uri Caine or Dave Douglas. But the point is not diminished that much of the extensions of jazz composition and improvisation comes from overseas.

Such is the case with Florian Ross' quintet. "Seasons and Places" is the first CD released with Ross as a leader, and it has to be one of last year's most outstanding premiere jazz CD's. Unfortunately, it may remain undiscovered because of limited U.S. distribution and weak name recognition.

Ross proves himself to be not only a strong presence on each of the tunes, but also his compositional skills are admired by none other than the respected Jim McNeely in the well-written liner notes. With Ross' experiments in time signatures and harmonic advances, we find a group more in tune with some of the more explorative Wayne Shorter/Herbie Hancock work than any others that may come to mind. Indeed tenor saxophonist Matthias Erlewein adopts a tone and method of intervallic placement that's reminiscent of Shorter's language of his Blue Note heyday. And Ross offers a dynamic musical sensibility even when he accompanies his hornmen, for example merely moving the modulations along with half-noted, dense chords.

With several awards and experience arranging for European big bands behind him, Ross has chosen to present his quintet in the middle range with the assistance of tenor sax and trombone. In that respect, his group is similar in darkness and timbre to Dave Holland's. Exhibiting a range of moods, from the rapid-fire "Clapham Junction" to the meditative "Winteraire," Ross has put together an excellent CD, consisting as it does of excellent musicians, all deserving much wider recognition.

The impressionistic and unpredictable "Seasons and Places" is highly recommended for listeners who appreciate unconventional approaches to composition and a high level of improvisational complexity."

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