REVIEWS OF ANANDA
”Ananda is brimming with idealism and fearless venture… this ambitious undertaking successfully aspires to exude an abstract, sprawling vibe of global connectivity… Ananda is plentiful with such moments: cinematic tableau’s that somehow gracefully merge with on-the-sleeve honesty and that’s key.”
— Jeff Potter, Down Beat Magazine
“Some tunes have purity and clarity. They seem to link to the old stories told by elders so long ago that they are a part of the genetic code. Sometimes the melodies seem to be folk tunes from multiple cultures murmuring narratives, cautionary tales, celebrations, nostalgic musings. Sometimes the music has the lilt of jazz, syncopation, ellipsis and substitution, a familiar cadence that says you’ve heard this before, but not quite like this. Sometimes the stories are structured, logical, traditional, reliable in their conclusions and resolutions… quote classical unquote. Drummer composer Finger and his compadres, Vadim Neselovskyi, pianist, Pete McCann and Dave Stryker, guitars, bassist Adam Armstrong, violinist Zach Brock, and the wondrous Mivos String Quartet combine all the elements mentioned before to make a human music… not world, not crossover, not even exactly third stream (jazz classical cross pollination), but human music that passes through the ear bypassing the the pre-frontal cortex (judging-comparing) and headed straight for the hippo campus (emotions and long term memory). I could write extensively about each tune, but this time I prefer to leave analysis to you the individual listeners, that is if you feel the need to analyze this music at all. For me it is a thing of great beauty, elegant in its simplicity, authentic in its intimacy, revelatory in its familiarity.
Thank you for your hard work and passion. And thank you for your commitment to the emerging global community.
— Hobart Taylor, Radio Station KUCI in LA
“Christian Finger is a German drummer/composer residing in NYC and his resume includes working with Dave Kikoski, Gerd Dudek, Harvie S, and Charlie Hunter. Ananda is one of the most inclusive albums this writer has heard this year–it’s all over-the-map with its influences and inspirations yet it holds together as a cohesive experience for the eclectic-minded. Without coming across as a Whitman’s Sampler, Ananda encompassed fusion, chamber jazz, Django Reinhardt-style swing, mellow balladry, hard bop, and more. “African Skies, Linear Lives” juxtaposes African-flavored (almost New Orleans-like, too) with gnarly, thorny rock-edged guitar from Pete McCann and Vadim Neseovsky plays a lovely ruminative solo with echoes of Abdullah Ibrahim and Keith Jarrett. “Truth Waltzed In” is a bittersweet ballad wherein McCann gets in touch with his inner Kenny Burrell and Zach Brock waxes romantic with the warm elegance (though not the style) of Stephane Grappelli, and Vadim Neseovsky plays a spare, luminously lyrical yet punchy solo. The exhilarating “Nights Beyond, India” has a “Caravan”-like rhythm, some fierce, searing rock-like guitar from McCann that evolves into a duel with Brock as it builds to Coltrane-like intensity, with little detour to some pugnacious heavy metal motifs and then into some contemplative McCoy Tyner-esque passages. “Two Faces” is a melancholy yet melodramatic (in the best sense!) ballad sung by Bobby Harden in a manner evoking Kurt Elling in his more mellow moments.
The Mivos String Quartet isn’t there for a “with strings” concept –the foursome is melded into Finger’s ensemble as a whole. While the focus is on Finger’s remarkable compositions, his drumming his most impressive–like Jack DeJohnette and Matt Wilson, he’s alternately explosive, self-effacing, and making with simmering swing. If you’re the type of jazz fan–or music fan for that matter–that needs “consistency” for the length of an album, Ananda might be frustrating. Conversely, if you can groove to the Kronos Quartet, the original Mahavishnu Orchestra, and McCoy Tyner within the same hour, this platter is well nigh essential.”
— Mark Keresman, Jazzed Magazine
“…The program rather ambitious drummer succeeds without problems, including string quartets and the music of the quartet, in tune with the contemporary jazz; out comes an album that can seem eclectic at first listen, but then convinces even from this point of view: arches have depth in what they express and elsewhere the modern mainstream of the other musicians has the quality to stand out. …put together form an album that despite the length is not tiring but, indeed invites to continuous playback for better appreciate the beautiful melodies and solos.”
— Vittorio, Music Zoom, Italy
”... Eye opening music… a top-shelf jazz and fusion release in high rotation here… Reflecting drummer/composer Finger’s globetrotting history, Ananda jumps from lush ballads to noise guitar while still managing to project a unified, almost modern-day third-stream vision. This is the kind of record where the intent isn’t to dazzle but to show how the drums can be woven into the overall tapestry.”
— Ilya Stemkowski, Modern Drummer Magazine
“This is a very interesting, thought provoking and enjoyable album that includes both very modern jazz and contemporary classical music… there is certainly music, with a little imagination, to fill your mind with fascinating images and lasting 78 minutes you should also feel really good about its value for money…The string playing is superb but all members of the band are excellent in this pulsating, sinuous piece. Not Gone, Not Forgotten is contemporary, classical music featuring Finger and the Mivos String Quartet and highlights the breadth of Finger’s compositional talent with a nod towards Mozart.
— Howard Lawes, Sandy Brown Jazz, UK
“It’s obvious Finger is making music just for the sheer pleasure of it, combining brain with beat, and the result is indeed bliss on many level… The disc is, in fact, a killer fusion outing that would be perfectly at home on MoonJune or myriad other progressive labels, even ECM—the old ECM, the 70s ECM, as the balladic title cut, African Skies, Linear Lives, is a conjugation of Oregon meeting Mahavishnu Orchestra meeting Shadowfax, especially once Pete McCann enters with his psychedelic Holdsworth/Boyle/Abercrombie guitar style. Then Vadim Neselovskyi enters and mixes it up with the composition, on piano going from Jarrett to Wasilewski to Evans… The above three paragraphs only briefly and lightly touch on the feast this CD offers, and Ananda is 78 minutes long, so you have plenty of time to get your music buzz on and sustain it.”
— Mark Tucker, Acoustic Music
“Another day, another jazz group expanded by string quartet. Actually German drummer Finger, who has been resident in the U.S. for a while and is a student of Jeff Ballard, in some ways uses strings more prominently than Chris Potter (see review of Imaginary Cities here) as one of his chief soloists is violinist Zach Brock (the most impressive player here). The others are guitarists Pete McCann and Dave Stryker, and pianist Vadim Neselovskyi, so it’s an all strings and percussion affair. …travel, zen, Ananda (the Sanskrit for “the world of bliss”), Mozart, Senegalese drumming, Alban Berg, Urgrund (German for “the ancient ground from which we all originate”) . Finger is as bursting with musical ideas as he is with conceptual ones, and the album is filled with fine and sophisticated playing. He dominates as composer but not as player, giving his fellow players a lot of room to move and express themselves. Try the title track as a highlight. Overall it’s an interesting exploration of this new type of jazz which is as happy exploring its relationship with Western classical music as it is conversing with Eastern and African traditions.”
— Peter Bacon, Jazz Breakfast
“They are called the “Heart and the Engine” of Bands- and that’s even an understatement…”The drummers precision and flawless execution is the most important thing, everything depends on it on stage…The new excellent CD’s by Manu Katche, Marilyn Mazur,… proves this point…New York is the most happening place with a lot of great musicians, but is it possible to survive there? Mr. Finger tried and succeeded in doing. After a classical University education and good jobs in the German jazz scene and teaching positions at several Conservatories the passionate drummer moved 2001 to NY. He had connections via playing with US stars and contacts to famous drummers…Right now he‘s playing in several ensembles, teaching, composing, writing for the “Modern Drummer” Magazine; his CD “Merge Into Beauty” received great reviews from American Jazz magazines; “A fantastic CD” says his famous colleague Bill Drummond.”
— Hans Hielscher, Der Spiegel, “High Season for Drumming Artists”
“… An inspired collection of compositions for your listening pleasure… songs are a true clinic in how to improvise within a through composed work….Overall, Ananda is a recording you’ll enjoy from start to finish and one that certainly meets the standards of Christian Finger’s two previous recordings. “
4 Star rating (out of 5).
— Paula Edelstein, Examiner