After worming up day first, full of surprises and good vibes the show goes on. Once I am back into routine everything just clicked in and I am feeling great in old good Berlin like in my own home again. Here we got a following report for most of the events fulfilling the Friday night.
Second album from the Echos of Swing – German Quartet led by British trumpeter Colin T. Dawson, playing traditional jazz music seems to be the perfect choice for the summer time review. Issued under the Good Time Jazz series, just like their Blue Pepper debut, it continues bringing nice and chilly moments to the listeners. It was laying around for quite a long time, so I did spin it to give it a go.
The music the quartet plays reminds us that Jazz, when it came first time was actually a dance music! All wrote for fun, entertainment and for people’s joy in general. From crazy barns where first the black plantation labourers kept coming after work to relax till the ballroom days when shiny brass band was playing music for couples enjoying dancing.
So we have here the Ragtime Dance f.ex., well known Joplin’s standard, played in full respect to the Rag tradition, but with a little Dixie drums treatment as well as nice stylish coloraturas added by trumpeter. The main band’s stylist who devoted long time in his life for researching this music tradition.
But we also have Miller’s the Moonlight Serenade. Stylish and gentle without big-band behind. Here Dawson also sings. So he does in Porter’s Dream Dancing. Funny enough his articulation reminds a bit the way that Chet used to sing, with a little melody lines twisted with almost whispered lyrics. Other way there is nothing else what would refer to the West Coast. Johnson’s All you Wanna Do is Dance, on which he also sings, confirms his lack of mannerism completely. Here they play straight joyful Charleston and he sings in purely woodvill style as it belongs to the Art Deco era.
But band’s tribute goes further that careful and stylish interpretation of the Swing era music.
Here we have then an opening Hipsters Hop, composed by saxophonist Chris Hopkins, cleverly written piece in which he merges what Cool Jazz brought to the table into Swing-alike tissue. Still perfect tune to dance to. Another one called the Ballet of the Dunes is equally elegant Caravan-esque like sounding tune bringing memories of Tizol’s original. Wonderful laziness is pictured here with trumpeter’s lines played with plumber in. Slow Mambo makes you want to hold your girlfriend tight and close. What’s not to like ?
Additionally we have here some Latin influence represented by Diplomata by Pixinguinha. With a bit of up tempo treatment it became a fast Rumba, with brass lines refereeing to the original but piano and drums drifting towards pure Cuban Sol. So is Dawson’s wonderful solo in the middle of the piece.
No one would expect to hear the J.S.Bach’s Gavotte I from an English Suites book 6th in that mix , but they did it too. You don’t have to believe me, just listen. As for Gavotte, even if it belongs to 18th century, it still is a dance. And those gents gave it a treatment that would get your lazy four letters back on the parquet. They really did. Check it if you are after romance with the charming melody lines in the background.
Here we are again. That report covers the first day I joined the Fest this year. Meanwhile a couple of gigs happened in the middle of the week days, hence for travellers like myself, impossible to attempt. What is worth mentioning however here is that the both happened in completely new venues for the festival. One is a Lido, known to me as a great place for the rock event and the one which took place there just fit the purpose right. Another is Kirsche am Hohenzollernplatz, so another fantastic venue for acoustic projects. I didn’t see the set there as well, but went to the church to see the place and it really is the fantastic one. That said instead of the preface. Hope you like the report and it makes you interested to find out more about the Fest and the artists involved.
(NB – Nils Økland UK live performance December 13th)
With ‘Lysning’ – in English a clearing or forest glade – the violin and Hardanger fiddle virtuoso and composer Nils Økland has created a landmark recording that counts as his masterpiece thus far. It is also the synthesis and culmination of a long career working between different forms – folk music, art music from the baroque to free improvisation, jazz, rock, whatever – where Økland, who is now 56, has continued to pursue the same questing approach irrespective of the restrictive rules and boundaries used to separate different historical or generic styles. Listening to ‘Lysning’, everything suddenly becomes clear: Nils Økland plays Nils Økland music. Like a very select few contemporary masters – one thinks perhaps of Jordi Savall, Björk, Jan Garbarek – he has become his own genre.
It’s been a busy busy busy fall season so far, with little sign of any break in the action….but I guess that’s the way it should be as you approach the halfway point of your 50th birthday!
This week, ICP is in the thick of a rare UK/Ireland tour, please come out and see us if you’re within shouting distance (time and venue details in the above link):
Gramss is well regarded double bass virtuoso and a great fame in Germany and worldwide. Those who are after music for Contrabasso must remember his unforgettable duets with Stefano Scodanibbio, his great master and as well as the other completing this series of recordings: Barre Phillips, Tetsu Saitoh, Mark Dresser, Barry Guy and William Parker to nail just a few of my all time favourites. His most current projects are Fossil 3 (with Rudi Mahall & Etienne Nillesen) and reviewed here Slowfox ( featuring Hayden Chisholm & Philip Zoubek).
All 15 titles on the disc make a perfectly sensible sentence when read as one lot without thinking:
And Those Who Were Seen Dancing Were Thought To Be Insane By Those Who Could Not Hear The Music. Could not be more truth. Except one, which is co-composed with the pianist, all music came from the leader.
While I know and regard Zoubek’s music from his Cleen Feed recordings New Zealand born saxophonist Hayden Chisholm is completely new discovery to me.
I am listening to this music over two months now and I can not stop my fascination. The pieces as they come are hypnotising and are possessing a huge imaginative spell over the listener. I know that they are scored but I can not stop thinking about them as an improvised suite. The amount of spark inside of this music makes it to me equally fresh every time I am coming back to it.In fact I am still discovering this to be perfectly honest and more of that I would like this to stay like that as long as it is only possible. It is like a dream one doesn’t want to leave. It is entertaining with its versatility, changing tempos and twisted instrumental lines. In the same time it is calming down swaying you with blues harmonies and chord progressions inviting listener into intellectual tete -a tete. Everything inside of this trio is so well heard and responded that it merges into perfectly finished stories. I can’t find a single note which doesn’t fit the purpose and I am completely hypnotised by this. That’s said.
Zoubek’s voice in this dialogue doesn’t go far from his solo piano approach I am familiar with. Little preparation is present from time to time but his contemporary pianism is here little bit more on the melodic side to support the concept of music. His percussive approach covers the lack of drum-set successfully and makes the frame together with Gramms’ lines.
Leader itself is as always speechless. His play refers to many of his previous works and pays tributes to the greatest bassist he ever played with, a company which he truly belongs to. For the real Double Bass junkies like myself tracing this paths would be an extra bonus on top of already heavenly cooked dish.
Saxophonist is nothing shorter that congenial. His playing is simply amazing. Capability to articulate gently like a flute ,or using almost invisible vibrato on such a slow tempos there are weaved into that tissue are knocking out. Sounds are fascinating with his musical “ being well read off”. Smooth like Hawk or Webs he can immediately come to Lacy like articulate and lyric side ,to finish with Henderson-esque thrill which I hardly heard coming that close to the original from any one else. God , that man has a skill so huge that it makes me feeling like an new-bee by the fact that I never heard about him before. What more can I say ? It’s a Knock Out. Go and Get it !
BUY IT here
epic cinematic soundscapes from the drummer’s drummer
Erland Dahlen’s ‘Clocks’ presents the listener with a series of epic cinematic soundscapes. Although there is no actual film to illustrate, the imaginative power and suggestive resonance of Dahlen’s compositions easily stand comparison with the work of leading film composers. As Dahlen – whose previous album, ‘Blossom Bells’, was nominated for a Spellemannspris, the Norwegian ‘Grammy’ – is a drummer, one might first think of Antonio Sanchez’s percussive score for ‘Birdman’, say, but ‘Clocks’ employs such a broad range of sound-sources and musical reference-points that it’s probably closer to the atmospheric film-work of Tangerine Dream or Ryuichi Sakamoto. Police drummer Stewart Copeland’s music for ‘Rumblefish’ and the contributions to ‘Apocalypse Now’ by the Grateful Dead’s Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann come to mind, too.
Unrest is a new collection of masterly collages from the hand of Erik Honoré in which he captures, with absolute precision, the moods and tonal imagery of improvisations and weaves them together in a personal and evocative musical process. He has been joined by an impressive array of Norwegian improvisational musicians: Sidsel Endresen, Eivind Aarset, Arve Henriksen, Stian Westerhus and many others.
Sebastian Sternal should be well recognised on these pages as we reviewed his both Echo Jazz wining orchestral projects here as well as a calm and charming duo entitled Canada or quartet recording with his friend Frederick Koster. Here he continues to explore his fascination in jazz piano trio classic approach. And to make it even more exiting both of his partners are top piano trios members. Grenadier is a bass pillar of Brad Meldhau’s group when Burgwinkel is an extremely mighty drum-force of the Pablo Held Trio, among the others.
As should be expected then those three are perfectly merged in together here and they are all feeling easy like a fish in a water. From an opening I am the Ocean intro’s however it becomes clear that it is not going to be another modal piano game. Sternal’s approach gains vastly from his symphonic landscapes and this path attracts his colleagues in crime vastly with their capability to follow whatever comes.
Go is a super modern piece with fascinating piano fingering coming more from the classical music than from choppy or beefy rich jazz school represented by others. Accordingly following bass riffs as well as spacious drumming are up to tempo. Additionally rhythmic landscapes set by drummer are the quality of its own .
Coming after Sand slows almost into the border of de-fragmentation. It’s almost like a piano tune anatomy lesson with the surgeons precision of drum bits lines precise like a scalpel’s cuts with the firm grip of the bass catch. Title piece takes my imagination from the piano trio territory to the landscape I remember from Pat Matheny’s Group with Sternal – Burgwinkel conversation bringing back memories of dialogues between Lyle Mays and Paul Wertigo from his 70’s super-group.
Gravity comes as a more dance piece, but groovy passages that Sternal plays here holds on groups voice strongly. Following Winter gives more opened space for Larry to shine and his bass walk is here both, lyrical and incredibly charming. Jonas is a drummer that every bass-man is dreaming about. Sound-scapes he creates around the bass lines as well the ground prepared under the piano lines are striking like thunder. This is probably he most elegiac piece, reminding me with its intensity cooperation between Tord Gustavsen and Mat Eilertsen.
Allias falls into similar territory but bass had been given much more narrative capacity here, which had been very well used indeed. All of You , the only standard on this CD tributes its author obviously but as it comes from musicians like those here we are not getting usual approach based on the choral quotes. Pretty much opposite. Sternal with friends are acting here like psychologists researching the subject, dragging pieces of memories from your head, touching moments and referring to this secret associations which All of Us are holding inside of our most private inner space. It comes in a similar way as the Masabumi Kikuchi’s trio used to build up momentum. Quote with anti-quote, hold the line with minimalist touch but an incredible emotional tension.
I could continue finding connections and revealing paths for you another page but it would be sadistic to take all this pleasure out of you. Instead I am leaving it here as it is. Needless to say that what we are finding on this recording is a real treasure chest. Full of absolute erudition and understanding of what happened in the jazz and classical piano world during the last hundred years. Cherry picking from this Master Cake is a real debauchery for everyone who loves to rob Sweet- shops.
Buy Sebastian Sternal – Home here…
Multi reeds and clarinets player Niels Klein is also a multiple musical awards holder, just like the rest of members in his Tubes and Wires quartet. As I mainly know him from his work with EJO I hardly had any exclamations once this music arrived. Watching instrumentalists there one would expect some electric jazz like approach perhaps ? But its a no , no.
With Burkwinkel on drums I am confident that they can play whatever they like. Remaining two musicians , guitarist and keyboardist are new faces to me as well, which is always a nice challenge.
Music presented here is quite extraordinary. It deviates from a jazz idiom significantly, exploring different sorts of fusion territory. There are traces of rock and psychedelic influences, but also numeric reminiscences to the chamber music of the modernism era.
All is merged together in clever way bringing wonderful textures to the surface.
In a piece like Perpetual Waves for example we are getting some kind of alienation, almost sci-fi picture with the way the electronics is used to co- sound with wind instrument. After the break guitar with connection with rocky drums extending it into a more psychedelic plot , but still the leader’s contra-alto clarinet supported by electronic effects are making a core of the tune.
Similar suspense like sound-scapes are coming from another tittle: Beams. Here the feeling of open space builds on the wave background supplied by Rhodes brings very holographic feelings. Camarudo changes that hang on laid back with speedy bravado theme supplied in fast tempos from the bass clarinet solo, soon joined by all band ride thickening the structure of the picture. More hymnal Gleam brings me memories of Arne Domnerus due to its bluesy and antiphonal character and a gentle harmony build between the clarinet and organs, but rhythmic section takes it back to the Scofield-esque aesthetic of his group from the 80-ies.
Closing tittle tune is one of the most attractive to me as it builds on lovely clarinet riffs joined by the grudge like section aka early bass lines from The Pixies. On such a background leader’s trips occasionally dialogue with Moog piano supplying wonderful musical tissue full of subtle tonal weaving masterly made by both musicians.
Same qualities come with an opening Launch Pad Disco tune which sets up the mood for the land of changes. Worn Out Lifelong Machine is probably the most challenging in that regard. Sounds coming from the synthesisers are merged with electronically modulated lines from clarinets in the way which makes is hardly possible to recognise what is what. On the other hand this enhanced octaves experience is like listening to the voice of the castrato, which is equally beautiful as it is unreal.
All together it is very unusual recording exploring a lot of virgin lands and bringing a charm of something new to my ears. Sonority of this acoustic- electric passages are spelling charm over the listener and engage an imagination. Simple beauty of the harmonies alone would be enough to be pleased, but the fact that they are also extraordinarily composed makes them timeless.