CD Review: Susanne Alt, Jazz In The Space-time Continuum

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Neither absolute space nor absolute time exists however, space and time are interconnected rather than independent entities. This continuum mirrors well-executed music; they mutually influence each other and leave a lasting impact on the ears and synapses {that small pocket of space between two cells, where neurons can pass messages to communicate} of our brains.

The academic pursuit of music, often influenced by conservatories and common with artists at the start of their careers, is heavily influenced by theory. Topics such as sight-reading, breath technique, physiological fundamentals, rhythm training, and composition, especially in jazz courses dominate the curriculum. However, the practical aspects of life as a professional musician, which unfold on a different page, are usually not part of university teachings.

Susanne Alt, a saxophonist born in 1978 in Würzburg, Germany, opted for education in the Netherlands, where jazz studies were more practically oriented, at least back then. The Netherlands offered numerous performance opportunities for jazz musicians, and jazz, in general, received more significant support than in other parts of Europe. In 1996, Susanne Alt, the child of two musicians and music teachers, moved to Hilversum to attend the Conservatorium van Hilversum (now Conservatorium van Amsterdam). Since 2003, Susanne has been a freelance musician in Amsterdam, possessing a distinctive sound on the saxophone, crucial in this realm. Today, she plays on the Alto, crafting tones expertly through exquisite, poised breathing.

On her recently released album, “Royalty For Real” (Label: Venus Tunes Alto 35), you can vividly hear this mastery. Susanne recounts numerous opportunities to play with and be mentored by jazz giants. She was friends with jazz trumpeter Roy Hargrove, who unfortunately passed away in 2018 at the age of 49 due to heart failure, but whose influence continues to resonate in the jazz world. She not only played with him often during his European tours but also engaged in discussions about his compositions and her own pieces. The two musicians regularly exchanged ideas.

Photo by Mark Engelen


The new album is dedicated to him. For this project, Susanne booked the New York recording studio Eastside Sound and recorded these fascinating pieces from her repertoire with an exceptional group of local musicians. What I hear in Susanne Alt’s music is a sound that models our time. The relationship between time, sound, and listening is at the core of her music. “Unfolded time” is an auditory experience concerning the relationship between time and sound. Viewing time as something emerging from our relationships with things alters the relationship between sound and time. Time then becomes the result of the encounter between the sonic event and our perception, and it is no longer the sound unfolding in time; now, time unfolds in the sound.

On the seven tracks of Susanne Alt’s new album, you can joyfully and relaxingly perceive this connection between sound and time, preferably while leaning back! It’s also delightful to hear the Fender Rhodes contributions from pianist James Hurt. All in All, a fine album!

Track Listing:
1. Roy Allan | 2. Blue Notes & Fairy Tales | 3. Rue Lepic | 4. Bel Air Bop | 5. Classy Cats | 6. The Nearness Of You | 7. Royalty For Real

Susanne Alt (sax), | James Hurt (keys), | Gerald Cannon (bass) | Willie Jones III (drums).

Release Date: 16 februari 2024
Format: CD | LP | Streaming
Label: Venus Tunes Alto 35



Last modified: March 14, 2024