Ralph Alessi’s fourth appearance as a leader for ECM follows a singular album run that’s been met with nothing but praise from The New York Times to The Guardian. The latter lauded Ralph’s previous recording Imaginary Friends (2019) for its “elegant balance of poignant, playful original compositions and gracefully probing improv” and declared it “his best album yet.” It’s Always Now however brims with arguments that there is a new contender for that title. On his new album, Alessi’s unique tone is as limber, piercing and present as ever, enveloped by a fresh quartet line-up – pianist Florian Weber, Bänz Oester on bass and drummer Gerry Hemingway – that navigates through the trumpeter’s idiosyncratically swinging compositions with a sixth sense. The album is not only a continuation of the leader’s work but also records Florian’s evolution on the label, this being his fourth album with ECM to date. His distinctive harmonic approach on keys is as evident in leader settings as in the role of a sideman, and his deep sensibility for Alessi’s pulse enhances this session, which was produced by Manfred Eicher.
A typical ECM set this is a restrained set with a tinge of melancholy which proves to be both entrancing and thought provoking. The album will be featured on World of Jazz 564.