I am not following the music of Austrian Trumpeter Lorenz Raab too close, but I had the pleasure of seeing him twice on stage. Once with his Blue Trio and another time with the xyBand which also contained his duo partner and E-zitherist and famous looper, Christof Dienz. Those two are familiar with each other for a long time. I like Raabs warm tone and melancholic approach as well as his experiments with electronics which I consider to be very tasty, purist and always well balanced and done with purpose without over doing things.
Dienz is another story but his creativity and synchronicity with Raab are obvious hence why we got this recording here, which is the best confirmation of what I say above as it brings all
Those strengths which always had been a common denominator in their mutual co-operation. Both of them are Romanticists, who like to float in the space without making music too thick. There is a lot of air in their play and it always was, whatever separate or together.
Six out of nine compositions came from Christof. Those which wrote Lorenz are much easier to recognise to me as they had this foggy picturesque like way of sketching landscapes with his brass, which is always present in his projects. Here the view is clear, and melody leads the listener through the piece. Zitherist approach is more medieval, aliquots alike – philosophically. More accompanying musically. But Dienz’s inclusion brings a lot of an empiric sense of hollowness if you know what I am trying to express?
His own music takes deeper into the experimentation, as it is him who creates the landscape, hence Lorenz has no other choice than to follow, the bit like with dancing, where a couple contributes but one clearly leads when another follows. Let’s take the Underwaterfish as an example, brilliant title if you think about and absurd sense of it. The abyss created by rhythmic, looped patterns are closely filled with Rabbs long notes into the borders that Dienz created.
Summer in Winter is another great example where paternal presence of the Zither notes are making a framework. Here however choral characters of the patterns are allowing Raab to climb on his notes like an Ivy in any direction he likes. That loose tempo gives him more opportunity to build up wonderfully dreamy and melodically engaging shiny brassy soundscape.
The most interesting Raab’s composition to me is the one called On the Other Side. It is very Gothic and sounding close to Godard’s Castel del Monte project. It brings wonderful tension into the piece, which consequently builds and finds excellent climax on the end.
From Christof compositions the one titled Hey Lo! is my favourite. It is almost like a rock ballad crafted with his synthed line up of instruments, but it makes the best melting pot for both musicians and allows Raab to show wide range of his trumpet and equal ability to shine in heights as he does in mids.
It is very contemplative and funky recording and more you listen to that the more unusual sounds reach you, showing that it is actually more complex than first impression might tell.
Berliner Jazz pianist Clara Haberkamp is known to me from her own Trio recording. I had a pleasure to review her last Orange Blossom CD, some 2 years back and I liked it a lot, it intrigued me enough to go back in time and check her other 3 recordings for other German labels: Laika. Here we have a different approach as pianist, who doesn’t hide the fact she Loves to sing as well, is presenting herself in this solo project as the singer and a song-writer.
Like previously majority of the material is her own, except Alone, with lyrics by Edgar Allan Poe and closing Someone Like You being the music of Vangelis. Let’s start with those two then. First, as might be expected they’re bringing some deep and meaningful words to the surface, very reflective and autumn alike. The musical mood she has wrapped it with is very gentle and suits expressed emotions very well. Vangelis’ ballad is a wet hot pop song covered by many, including Adelle for example to use the freshest memory. Saying that, this was pretty boring obvious and typical Brit-pop style. In comparison Clara’s approach lacking that obscurity and with changing tempos and narrative vocalise, brings a lot of life and freshness to an otherwise well-worn song. With phrasing she reminds me a bit of Peter Cincotti, who also has that crispy heights bringing sort of breezy feeling to the tissue.
Getting to her own material, as it had been already proven before, she is a damn good writer.
She has got that easiness of putting words together in the way than they reach you deep inside of your emotional structure and in the same time she doesn’t overuse the words. Keeps it simple. With a melody which the lyrics brought continues its life in the piano phrase. Such is an opening Lighted Crow.
In others, like for example Wild Rose, the piano introduction sets the pace of the song which simply drifts on that few chords. Again, the simplicity, honest articulation of the lyrics and meaning of the words are making it all happen.
What makes it touchy is the fact that those lyrics are very self-exposing. Not in the way she exhibits herself. Even if she does, it is not what first comes to mind. It is more like telling the stories which are universal truths about all of us. Therefore, it is not difficult to identify yourself with them. As they are touching reflections that are left in all peoples heads.
On the same time all those stories are kind of sounding from the distance and giving you that feeling of being alone with your thoughts which is coming out of that recording once you get used to the lyrics and keep listening to it repetitively. It is especially touching in the piece called Pink Overture, which is probably my favourite on that session. This is a song without words and it really doesn’t need any. The piano invocation gives you that feeling of intimacy which are coming from her lyrics before and after. That music drifts in such a natural way like a heartbeat. And like breathing comes without questioning.
Dare to indulge yourself in this fragile word of feelings, anxieties and reflections and you will be rewarded hundred times.
Release: March 15th
Øyvind Torvund’s super-maximal adventures in far-out Exotica: think John Zorn hanging with Stockhausen in Martin Denny’s kon-tiki lounge. But it is not just a simple trip to the cartoon – land. Far from that actually and it contains more exotic notes than anyone would expect from the land of fjords.
Basement Research’s eighth album celebrates the band’s 25th anniversary. Gebhard Ullmann, Global citizen and winner of the City of Berlin’s 2017 Jazz Prize, celebrates his improvisations through a focused aesthetic in which each of the short pieces begins at a particular point and evolves into a collective band sound. Great music that consistently delves into the heart of the matter and, without skipping a beat, moves on to the next creative moment.
Multi-instrumentalist and guitarist Geir Sundstol, put together quite interesting bunch of musicians to contribute on his latest, 3rd recording. Music itself is truly interesting as well.
It has a strong cinematic influence and to a guy like myself who grew up on movies like Paris – Texas, Wings of Desire and remains a great fan of music of Nino Rota, Ennio Morricone alike and Ray Cooder or Bill Frisell to get down back to the planet guitar, it brings back a lot of memories.
An opening Snev is a nostalgic theme of incredible fragility. Very narrative and healing with an unavoidable trace of sadness. Coming after Leben, with a slide guitar and harmonica lines is probably the most reminding Spaghetti Western soundtracks, but here it is specially spiced with Nils Petter Molvar’s trumpet lines. Also, timpani drums, musical saw and many other percussive instruments are adding to the flavour a sort of shaky feeling with a trace a suspense. General tissue reminds me what I remember from Bowie’s Low, the middle of its Berlin trilogy.
Saying that it must be said that the saddest music he ever wrote, The Warsaw appears on that mix too as it comes to me as somehow natural consequence, except the fact that here it is mixed up with Coltrane’s Alabama – another very meaning theme originally issued on his album Live at Birdland (1963) to tribute the victims of the KKK Black Church massacre.
Recently I heard Alabama live on stage with Jack De Johnette quartet including Ravi Coltrane and Matthew Garrison, both children of the fathers who took a part of the original session. Looking at the social and political context of the days we are living in makes you think that it is not accidental that this music comes back to the surface just today.
A year before, British drummer Dylan Howe paid his own tribute to Bowie’s music on his Subterraneans album which I also heard on stage and had a pleasure to review after, but that was more conventional jazzy approach. Low grows Big again then and keep inspiring people.
Anyway, to Polish listeners like myself Bowie’s theme had been borrowed from piece called Helokanie, written by folk music and lyrics – performed by The Polish Song and Dance Ensemble “Śląsk” (Silesia) – conducted by Stanisław Hadyna. It is not just an obvious inspiration, but the fact confirmed by David himself in one of his interviews in which he handles the old Pronil record I also own, which he purchased somehow, somewhere, passing by ex-communistic block countries.
As music goes further we are getting more and more sunk into folk and bluesy lines coming out straight of the Delta tradition and then popularised by both mentioned above guitarists, with Blunder being most Paris – Texas soundtrack alike spiritually.
Interesting and chilling music which according to the artist supposed to be sad, but in my feeling, it came together very nostalgic. Maybe this is because Norwegians are so positive that they cannot really be sad in the same way as we are.
Whatever the truth is what matters in the end is that that this is simply wonderful recording embracing the listener with an outstanding charm.
I am having long time affair with Stark – Linnemann Quartet right now and it is a rather very pleasant one. Previously reviewed Chopin Recordings I, II and III were both beautifully re-worked and executed in a equally sophisticated way. The same can be said about, today’s already classic Liszt’s Piano Sonata in B minor, which started Paul’s journey into classical music transcriptions some six years back from where we are now.
I was looking forward to getting my hands on that one badly, not just because I know what the band is capable of, but also due to it is such a well-known and so many times re-worked piece of music, what raises the bar significantly. And, I mean so many did it, from great composers who are Iconic themselves to Pop or Rock Stars. I drop all those stories as well as the original one about The Pictures as it is widely recognised, and if not, it is easy to trace if someone needs to. The snippet of music which came in the middle of the summer only spiced my appetite, so when I finally had heard it I was gobsmacked not only with the music itself and the way it had been made, but also by the fact that I could see that the style they created is now a matured hallmark which I can recognise, What do I mean by that, then ? Just listen.
Let’s start from the most dance of the Pictures, the Ballet of the Unhatched Chicks. Paul previously already was mixing Latin music dances into his classical re- arrangements, so listening to the little Rhumba illustrating this there I was delighted to see the consequence in his work as well consistence in his style. Keeping the right balance between the funky rhythm and an infantilism of the sketched soundscape is the biggest strength there.
Other is Tuileries, second most joyful of the entire suite. Here the theme comes after percussion intro, brought gently by the clarinet again. And not before the bluesy rhythm had been introduced by the double bass. But this is clearly Linnemann’s show off. Here from the silky intro, sounding like sunrays going between the branches to the Brubeck’s Quartet alike sound meets Miles Davis Lift to The Scaffold. All dynamism and emotions of those interactions are sketched by his brushes. Paul introduces the Ball-room theme with his piano like a cruise ship in the turquoise oceanic depths.
Coming after Bydlo, by all the contrast brings immediate image of heavy toil and hard work effort by repetitive piano clusters joined by Iman Spaargaren’s tenor saxophone. Then repeating the lines through the chord progressions, a and wind improvisation bringing the image of disturbance, is nothing but excellence!
Following Goldberg and Schmule, again makes us dance, but to an entirely different melody. What starts like Juan Tizol’s Caravan becomes wonderfully moved by Spaargaren’s clarinet into Hasidic folk tune, driven by the rhythm like from an Ellington-esque Far East Suite. Another little gem blending together decades of Jazz with Orchestral heritage, Indian Raga and Judaic tunes. All again the music which had been originally written to bring a joy to the hearts and move your feet.
The main framework of the Work, its pillars should I say, are obviously the break outs named Promenades, total five out of sixteen orchestral pieces makes it one/third of the music.
Here SLQ doesn’t disappoint either, bringing a wonderful makeover to each of them when in the same time manage to prevent the tension they build in the original score. First oscillates between Ravel’ian piano reverb holding stridden Bolero rhythm and clarinet and drums shifting tempo into the gentle Bossa, Transition never happens and the balance between those two worlds holds the tension.
Second starts in Bill Evans attributing Piano Trio style. Paul’s melancholic and imaginative piano intro turns into the Waltz, which again by differential tension on keys relying on gentle Linnemann’s drumming steps like bare feet on the carpet.
Third is pure Blues, and the rhythmic intervals are just wonderful, section goes on like Mint Hinton and Jeff “Tain” Watts at their best. My heart is just growing like an elephant.
Forth is just a short interlude, lasting hardly 52 seconds, but it is stepping into the dark with heavy, Milonga like, sadness.
When I just guided you through nine images, there is still seven more waiting to be discovered by careful, sensitive listener. I don’t want to spare you of all that pleasure. All of them are real gems worth effort to find them. This is simply an exquisite approach which SLQ completed here and to me this CD is already a classic, right in line with the best Mussorgsky’s interpretations created in the past. Hats off.
Minua – Still Light
When two guitarists and a woodwind decide to start a trio, they probably have unconventional sound ideas. Why else dare such an original band idea? When Luca Aaron, Kristinn Kristinsson and Fabian Willmann first played together in 2014 in a rehearsal room at the University of Basel, they immediately felt a deep bond. “It was almost like salvation to find people in high school life who wanted to play something else,” smiles Aaron. The trio’s strong, multi-directional design will feed on various influences. Some have inspired everyone, others are more personal. To name the most important ones: post-rock, minimalism à la Steve Reich, Nordic melancholy and Scandinavian folk, as well as unusual timbres and blends, created through advanced playing techniques and targeted electronics.
“And now Something Completely Different “, as Monty Pythons used to say. I didn’t quote that without reason however. The mix of gags, skills, techniques and endless looking for a way to expand self-expression results it creating recording which challenges the listener by constant shift of gears and moods. First to start with is that Fabiana’s Trio is unusual itself containing a violin, piano and vocalist. Second to occur is that all those musicians do have solid classical conservatory background, but despite that they have a great need to explain their inner/other selves and boundaries of their artistic personalities. The more you listen to that music the more obvious it becomes. The more also you peel out as complexity of the compositions and multiple techniques and expression are attracting the attention first and kind of protecting the core.
Just to give you a clue, an opening Intro is a lovely harmony merging vocalise of Frederike Merz with leader nostalgic bowing. It lasts hardly a minute and leaves you with a hunger for more. Coming after Milky Way is another little jewel, even shorter, played on the prepared strings and made of gentle distortions which all together become a harmony. Takes skill to make it so profound and so grotesque in the same time.
Two next pieces are outstanding show off for Merz’s vocal qualities. First Morning Star, makes a fantastic expression in a Schumann ’esque style with outstanding freshness coming out of perfectly articulated lyrics and synth’ed guitar accompaniment.
Second called Sennergluck, mixes things from all over the world. You can hear Appalachian strings there starting with pizzicato intro making tapestry for a joyful vocalise and flying from folk infantility to seriously elegant string phrasing. With piano counterpoint it almost turns into an elegant dance.
First of the highlights comes however with sung in Spanish Madness of a Full Moon Night, with lyrics adopted from Diego L.Monachelli. Here the romanticism of the trio approached in connection with unexpected twist of the rhythm and the melody lines are making it into a proper Cabinet of Dr.Caligari’s. Merz’s dreamy vocalisation of the poem, sung with a truly operatic extension of the vocal powers and huge range swivels between German expressionism and the straight beauty of a I. Albéniz’s songs.
Another comes with Eigensinning, the piece ecstatically spreading between the sound of the modern string quartet and Ibero-influenced flamenco rhythms with gypsy libertinism mixed with a Balkan vitality. Singing here m, again is again a proper tour de force and it becomes obvious that Fabiana wrote these pieces with Merz’s voice in mind. The same applies to The Spaceship Over Nusa Penida, the minimalistic piece with a spirit of Terry Riley flying over the notes and bravado conversations between the violin and vocce, flying from scat to onomatopoeic drama ala Lauren Newton.
But the coolest momentum comes when the recording reaches its climax with the title Sweet and So Solitary. This Noir song with theatrical Voice Theatre accompanied by decadent piano and some seriously disturbing fiddling moves from the Blues to the Rumba, with the ecstatic momentum touching the Circus of Madness and the Freedom of God’s Creation
Wah Wah 45s are very proud to announce the release of the debut album from forward-thinking Tel Aviv based ensemble, Time Grove. Guided by acclaimed pianist Nitai Hershkovits alongside one third of Buttering Trio, and newly signed Stones Throw recording artist, Rejoicer, this group of musicians have produced a sound which is both delicate yet powerful; sonorous yet uplifting. The full line-up also features reed player Eyal Talmudi, drummers Roy Chen, Amir Bresler and Sol Monk, keyboard master Bemet, trumpeter Sefi Zisling, and guitarist Yonatan Albalak who have together created some of the most exciting instrumental music we’ve heard for quite a while!