Matt Chalk - alto saxophone
Tony Tixier - piano/synth
Tom Berkmann - bass
Mathias Ruppnig - drums
Recorded at Recpublica Studios, Lubrza, Poland
Mixed and mastered by Martin Ruch
Produced by Tom Berkmann, Tony Tixier, Mathias Ruppnig
Executive Producer - Michael Janisch
Photography by Jasmin Schuller
Graphic Design by Dave Bush
released September 10, 2021
ABOUT THE ALBUM
Following their critically acclaimed eponymous debut in 2018, international jazz quartet SCOPES bring their blend of accessibility and adventure to Whirlwind Recordings for their second album, Age of Reason. Led by Austrian drummer Mathias Ruppnig, German bassist Tom Berkmann and French pianist Tony Tixier, American altoist Matt Chalk makes his debut with the quartet on this their second full-length release.
The group’s name SCOPES describes “the frame we all work within”, says Berkmann. “SCOPES is a creative space that we share, without boundaries.” The group’s second release, Age of Reason, is a personal and philosophical reflection on the pressing matters of a time, when all generations need to come closer together and become more aware of their surroundings. That feeling of maturity emerges on Age of Reason too – it’s the first SCOPES recording to feature the compositional skills of each member, delivering some thrilling results.
Age of Reason opens with ‘Deep Water’, a Tixier composition that carefully balances drive and expansion in a “dive into the depths of our biggest unacknowledged dreams.” For Ruppnig, the album’s aims are encapsulated by this tune– “the songs have an easy feel, and they’re not too specific – every musician has the space to have his own voice speak.” ‘More Hope’ came to Ruppnig when faced with relentless negativity during the Coronavirus period, with characteristically tumbling solo contributions from Tixier and space for Berkmann’s introspective soloing. The angular, bop-ish feel of ‘Continuity’ (also from the pen of Ruppnig) follows a similar theme, on the need to keep a creative drive no matter what life throws at you.
‘Vice’ begins on a completely different tack – Berkmann’s relaxed bossa slowly spirals out of control, aided by Chalk’s frenetic solo contributions. “We call ourselves a modern jazz band, but maybe this symbolises the urge to not always feel so hip,” says Ruppnig. Chalk contributes ‘Riotous Silence’ to the album, borrowing the title from a self-penned poem written in 2019. The freest track on the album, here we find SCOPES at their most focused, on Chalk’s quest to find “new ways to more fully express atemporality.” The title track follows with its combination of melodic ease and structural space, before ‘Gift of Time’, a tune born from the idea of how precious time is. Unable to tour or perform, SCOPES used that time constructively to create and explore the new sounds heard on Age of Reason. ‘Chocolate Travels Slowly’ is a band favourite featuring Tixier on blistering form, before the album closes with ‘Here’s My Prayer’, written for Tixier by Chalk with the aim of “finding melodies and chords that we could all really sink our teeth into.”
Summarising, Ruppnig describes Age of Reason as a “transportation of feelings. “It's a very emotional album, and I hope listeners will find their own stories when listening to it.” SCOPES make that task a pleasant one for audiences of all dispositions.
"An alluring album... with wonderful compositions matched by excellent performances from all of the band members."
★★★★ UK Vibe
"If you like your jazz to be close to, but not over the precipice you'll want to check this one out."
Bebop Spoken Here
"Berkmann and Ruppnig’s idea for Scopes as an experimental unit that could play beautifully crafted, melodic jazz was well illustrated by their debut. Here, the bar is raised even further."