Thursday, November 29, 2018

Michel Meis 4tet - Lost in Translation (DOUBLE MOON RECORDS January 11, 2019)

Born in 1989, Michel Meis belongs to the new generation of Luxembourgish jazz musicians and regularly proves his versatility and openness through numerous projects.

After years of style shaping and sound experiments, his 4tet is about to make its mark on the European jazz scene with a sonic vocabulary that skillfully blends the traditional palette of drums, trombone, piano and double bass with the fresh approach and the broad musical background of open-minded and fearless musicians. The result is an exciting modern jazz where free and experimental improvisations meet well-crafted compositions. Where a rhythm, bursting with energy and vivacity, meets introverted and lyrical melodies. Where conventional jazz elements meet a clever and subtle use of jungle beats and electronic sound effects. Although a true powerhouse drummer, Michel Meis gives enough room for the other instruments to unfold, thus emphasizing the cohesiveness and harmony of the project.

Alisa Klein, trombone
Cédric Hanriot, piano
Stephan Goldbach, double bass

1 King Kong  05:32
2 Desire  07:38
3 Lost In Translation  03:51
4 Reflection  07:17
5 Hope  03:57
6 In A Dream  04:52
7 Heaven  05:22
8 Morena  05:45

Cowboys from Hell - Running Man (DOUBLE MOON RECORDS 2018)

A man is running. Fits probably more to the vocabulary of sport. Otherwise, a boring picture at a time when everyone is running anyway. But running can mean many things. Running away from something or anyone. Step up the pace, give gas. Or move forward at the highest level, never settle down, think extremely, act extremely, live extremely. Therefore, running is also a metaphor for our entire existence: As long as our hearts are running, we run too. Standstill inevitably means the end.

It's quite possible that the Cowboys From Hell think that way. Following "Monster Rodeo" (Altri Suoni) in 2008 and "Big Fish" (DMCHR 71107) in 2012, they call their third album "Running Man” not without reason. At first glance, this sounds like the logical continuation of their once brutal sound avalanches, for which there are so many drastic comparisons in the media as "music that is always able to scare your grandmother, but also tells stories that are worth being told. "(Jazzthetik),” Music for the pit of yous stomach” (Tagesanzeiger, Switzerland), "Wicked. Exacerbated. Borderline"(Sonntagszeitung, Switzerland). But somehow body-hurting noise, booming ears, throbbing skull membranes and vibrating walls no longer seem to be the sole bliss-making goal of the high-speed cowboys. "We did not want to be as blatant as we used to be," saxophonist Christoph Irniger described the surprisingly multi-faceted development process of the trio documented in nine songs. If he, bassist Marco Blöchlinger and drummer Chrigel Bosshard did it the hard way in the past, then that meant: "Wild at any price, complicated and full of biting humor. Of course, these are all things that still have a certain value for us. But in the meantime, we do not have to show that we can play really difficult stuff, like 11/8 or 7/4 bars. In the meantime, we want one thing above all: finally to be authentic."

A maturing process of the three men without a doubt who have either reached the limit of the thirties in 2018 (Irniger) or have arrived in the early forties (Blöchlinger and Bosshard). Since 2005, they have been riding around Swiss and European countries as hard to overhear, tough wild west musicians, playing in very different areas of the music scene. For example, Chrigel Bosshard and Marco Blöchlinger are regarded as the mainstays in pop bands such as Lunik, Marc Sway, Steffe La Cheffe and Myron, while Christoph Irniger enriches jazz clubs and festivals with his trio and the group Pilgrim. A constant, restless back and forth between the genres, between styles and melodies, quotes and influences. "Of course, everyone has his personal favorites," Irniger explained the energetic hodge-podge. "I just recently practiced 'Off Minor' by Monk for an hour. That's the good old jazz. My contribution to the Cowboys. The other two have also enjoyed a solid jazz education, but are clearly rooted in pop and rock. "

Not the least because of that, the three Zurich residents are once again taking a real risk. They break with conventions and stereotypes, underlining exactly what not so long ago subdivided music into good and bad, valuable and superficial, exciting and routine, free and regulated, but this time much more subtly, finely, and sustainably. They act without blinkers, and do not spend much time reflecting on whether steaming funk grooves, smoking rock cannons or bubbling electronics fit into an improvising corset. They simply try it, with sometimes quite amazing results reminiscent of Frank Zappa or Rage Against The Machine for their dynamic shades of film music.

Of course, the three Cowboys from Hell are still loud and wild. That's their blood. But now it is no longer about a racket as a distinctive feature. Instead, the common playing attitude is in the current center of the collective desires. "We have become more compact,” the saxophonist summed up. A controlled eruption that includes pieces like "Breaking Stones", "First Song", "Speed Of Sound", "Wicked Game", "Urbi Et Orbit", "The Slope", "I'll Be Fine", "Vintage Baby" or the title song clearing the path from the volcano down into the valley. When everything has come to rest, when the lava has cooled, then suddenly there is a piece of hitherto unknown, fascinating music in the wide landscape. An adrenalin-containing pleasure.

Juan José Mosalini Orchestra - Live Tango (reissue) DOUBLE MOON RECORDS 2018

Tango is currently en vogue, the spirit of the time. Almost everyone hears it, and many play it. Sometimes they add the word "Nuevo", add a dash of jazz, like to mix in the sweet brew of pop in their recipe to spice it up a bit and make it "palatable" for a broad range of tastes in music. Why is that? Because the tango in its original, pure form with all its dark facets, all its melancholy and dreariness might not be so popular anymore?

What we have been enjoying for a long time, especially in western hemispheres, can usually be described as "Tango Light", a washed-out version of that great, classical Argentine music that at best faintly recalls opulent, heavy-blooded orchestras, dimly lit, smoky ballrooms and elegant, erotic dances. Anyone who desires to hear the original today has to turn to historical material. In the meantime, there is virtually no one who understands how to interpret the music of Juan d'Arienzo, Carlos Di Sarli, Osvaldo Pugliese or Aníbal Troilo authentically, the great classic masters of Tango de Salón.

The exception to this rule is the name Juan José Mosalini, who has just turned three quarters of a century old and has breathed life into tango since he was 13 years old. When he plays, a moment of his native country resonates in every note. This is precisely because he never really had solid ground under his feet. It is the sound of the tango that has been carrying this Argentine around the world for more than 40 years. He expresses his passion for a musician's life on his bandoneon, which long ago led him to the forefront of this music genre. That he is currently considered the world's best tango musician who still can be experienced live is no coincidence. Mosalini has played with the most important orchestras and soloists of Argentina such as Susana Rinaldi, Leopoldo Federico, Astor Piazzolla, José Basso, Horacio Salgan, and Daniel Binelli. He has composed legendary film scores, published his own bandoneon teaching method, and became a professor for bandoneon in France, where he has been living since fleeing his homeland from the military dictatorship in 1977.

At the height of his career, Juan José Mosalini has now made his greatest desire a reality: a large tango orchestra as was commonly the case in Argentina in the 1940s and 1950s. No pompous nostalgia infusion, but instead a revival of the heyday of tango. Mosalini’s orchestra with a whole armada of bandoneons, violins, a viola, contrabass and grand piano impresses with razor-sharp intonation, bouncy elegant phrasing and a rousing sense of rhythm, which would be a real treat for many a "real" symphony orchestra. On the double CD "Live Tango", Mosalini and prominent collaborators such as Jean-Baptiste Henry, Marisa Mercade, Sandra Rumolino and Reynaldo Anselmi celebrate tango in its purest, most authentic form. The gradually developing fireworks of emotions, images and stories with traditional arrangements by Argentino Galván, Gustavo Gancedo, Emilio Balcarce and Gustavo Beytelmann captivates every listener leaving almost no chance of resisting its lure and opens the ears of those who have only experienced the beauty of the tango from narratives or from diluted plagiarism until now.

In the liner notes of "Live Tango”, Juan José Mosalini talks about a conversation with his teacher, the great tango composer Osvaldo Pugliese (1905-1995), whom he had the honor of accompanying during his last years in Argentina. When Mosalini claimed that every orchestra could be brilliant and play at the highest level, but after him (Pugliese) and other legends such as Troilo, Salgan, Di Sarli, everything had been said, the maestro vehemently contradicted him. “That's not true!” It always depends on how you compose and play something!" That more or less means that whoever brings his passion and his heart into play will always create something new and wonderful. Like Juan José Mosalini.

Maik Krahl Quartet - Decidophobia (DOUBLE MOON RECORDS 2018)

It is a confession: Maik Krahl makes fear a subject of discussion. Fear of making decisions or doing something that you might regret later. The fear of making an irreparable error, perhaps ruining your future as a result, being rejected or giving offense. Not a few people are inclined to postpone answers to urgent questions in the hope that everything will somehow solve itself. But only waiting even increases the problem.

Psychology calls this phenomena “decidophobia”. “Especially as a jazz musician, you are forced continually to make decisions. Everything that you do has a direct influence on the band and the character of the piece. You cannot simply trust any mechanisms. It is a question of with which musicians I record, and which pieces are included on the CD,” Krahl explained. For him, it is less a question of fear of possibly negative consequences, the trumpeter assured. “I would instead call it decision uncertainty.” Because it concerns a lot in the current case for Krahl. After all, it is his first album under his own name and which is being released in the highly respected Jazz thing Next Generation series, which has supplied the German-language scene with fresh blood and new heroes for almost 15 years. As if that were not a sufficient burden, Maik Krahl can also set the candle on the birthday cake, because he of all people is the 75th protagonist of JTNG. This apparently provides sufficient reasons for him self-critically to call his debut “Decidophobia”. Then congratulations!

Although the musician born in Bautzen in 1991 really has no reason to worry. The seven songs on the CD, which he recorded with Bruno Müller (guitar), Oliver Lutz (bass), Hendrik Smock (drums) and Constantin Krahmer (piano), are brimming with bold inspiration, amazing solutions, compositional finesse and stupendous virtuosity. At the same time, you can detect an interesting portfolio of influences, which Maik Krahl absorbed voraciously during his studies at Carl Maria von Weber College in Dresden as well as Folkwang University of the Arts in Essen. However, nobody should be surprised at this with teachers such as Till Brönner, Malte Burba and Ryan Carniaux. The latter praises his student in the liner notes as an extraordinary young musician, “who is solidly rooted in the past, oriented to the needs of the present in everything he does and at the same time always looks to the horizon to recognize at an early stage everything that the future might bring forth.”

The fact that decisions here cannot be easy is obvious. Maik Krahl selected a subtle, swinging approach with a lean-playing rhythm section, “which also corresponds to my strong relationship to jazz tradition, to the great trumpet players such as Chet Baker, Kenny Dorham, Clifford Brown and Louis Armstrong.” His own compositions such as “Dance Little Walnut Dance”, “Demian”, “Number 3”, “Via Metauro”, “It Happened To Me”, “Ombrophily” and the title piece produce a refreshingly modern, unpretentious impression, while the band leader dares to take a courageous step into hardly developed no-mans-land with his decision to amplify his mildly shining, robust trumpet sound with an electric phaser in extensive sections.

Maik Krahl might brood about a lot that is wrong or right, what makes sense or what does not. However, precisely because he left nothing to chance, his debut CD sounds above all courageous and daring. It is as if someone would dive from a cliff not knowing whether he is going to land in water. A risk that has paid off in all respects, not only for Ryan Carniaux. He has not regretted the decision, he writes, to dedicate time to this great CD. Everything done right!

Maik Krahl - Trumpet
Bruno Müller - Guitar
Oliver Lutz - Bass
Hendrik Smock - Drums

1 Dance Little Walnut Dance  08:38
2 Demian  08:11
3 Number 3  06:28
4 Via Metauro  07:07
5 It Happened To Me  05:10
6 Ombrophily  07:17
7 Decidophobia  08:18

Birgitta Flick Quartet - Color Studies (DOUBLE MOON RECORDS 2018)

This is a step in a different direction. Forward, sideways, pause for a moment and then continue. But do not go back in any case. Before Birgitta Flick was pigeonholed as a Nordic sound artist due to the explicitly Swedish, peaceful, expansive ambiance of her previous albums “Yingying” (DMCHR 71121) and “Dalarna” (DMCHR 71170), she wanted to very consciously head in a different direction, introduce new colors, get to the bottom of them and play with them. Although there is of course grey again (“Grey”), because that fits somehow to the reflective tenor saxophonist, who was grown up in the area of Neubrandenburg and lives in Berlin. However, she also likes to romp around in “Yellow Room”, loves the colorful hotchpotch of “Pop Art”, juggles with musical shades of color in “Major and Minor” (composed by Béla Bartók), surprises with a “Happy Song” (“Happiness is currently the color blue for me. But that can change again in half a year.”) and gets to bottom of everything, i.e., “Color Studies”.  A paradigm shift for Birgitta Flick, which gives her and her perfectly matched band with drummer Max Andrzejewski, pianist Andreas Schmidt and the new bassist James Banner the possibility to present themselves as sound artists in the best sense of the word.

“After ‘Dalarna’, which originated from an order for a composition with a clear contextual background, we simply wanted to move in free space, wanted to improvise and combine the sum total of our inspirations,” Birgitta Flick explained the motif of her collective studies. “The idea with colors originated rather by chance, because I had the piece ‘Color Studies’. However, we soon realized that it expresses what we are doing very well.” The reason is that Flick, Andrzejewski, Schmidt and Banner experiment with the respective compositions as well as their melodic and rhythmic structures to create music from and for the moment.

In the process, we again experience the amazing magnetic attraction of a quartet, this small, compact, unbelievably dynamic band lineup. The musicians have to fit together in any case, love freedom and master their respective instrument. They start with a minimum of guidelines and information, interleave, and blend seamlessly into one. “There are notes there, and we simply make something of them,” Birgitta Flick stated concisely. When they do this, only unique pieces are created, no copies or repetitions, even in concerts. Everything comes and disappears again (if it is not recorded as in this case). Consequently, there are two different versions of Bach’s “Sarabande”, Flick’s older, many-layered miniature “Gespenster” and even “Color Studies” on the album, which approach themes from two opposing sides. Additionally, there are the dedications “Für Paul”, “Für Connie” (in honor of the deceased pianist Connie Crothers), “Line”, “Kor” and “H”, the homage by Andreas Schmidt for Thelonious Monk and Eric Dolphy (“Molphy”), his “Art Pop” as well as the collective improvisation “Ludus”. Four instrument players who come together in a confined space, four streams of thought, 16 takes, exciting, unique and gripping.

The “Color Studies” reveal themselves to be a collection of sketches and pictures, fragments and small strokes of genius, which Birgitta Flick has combined into a whole picture with her magnificent quartet. A snapshot of a rather peaceful, modest saxophonist, who will add a soothing, fresh color to the German jazz scene in the coming years.

Birgitta Flick - saxophone
Andreas Schmidt - piano
James Banner - bass
Max Andrzejewski - drums

1 Grey  03:34
2 Yellow Room  04:54
3 H  03:34
4 Für Paul  03:21
5 Art Pop  04:28
6 Color Studies #1  03:27
7 Sarabande #1  01:30
8 Gespenster #1  02:18
9 Kor  01:38
10 Gespenster #2  01:41
11 Sarabande #2  01:21
12 Happy Song  04:28
13 Molphy  05:43
14 Major and Minor  01:27
15 Ludus  01:27
16 Line  04:01
17 Für Connie  05:18
18 Color Studies #2  04:17

Elodie Lauton Quintette - Origines (DOUBLE MOON RECORDS 2018)

Hardly anyone knows Damia today, a famous French singer and actress who is considered the model of later world stars such as Edith Piaf, Barbara or Juliette Greco. In her chansons, Damia almost exclusively sang the life that in her case had tragic elements, which is why she received the nickname “la tragédienne de la chanson” (the tragic figure of the chanson). The singer was idolized between the world wars, but increasingly forgotten after the occupation of France by the Germans. Her music and voice only appeared again decades later in the films of Claude Chabrol, Jean Eustache and Aki Kaurismäki. “Dalmia’s story and her repertoire touched me very deeply. She had her own style and was the first “Chanteuse réaliste” in our country,” Elodie Lauton explained the motives for “Originis”, her second album after the much-respected crossover project “Terminal B”, which she released in 2012 with the group Goldamour around the pianist/keyboarder Jasper van’t Hof.

For the homage to her idol Damia, Elodie Lauton assembled a number of outstanding European musicians such as the French trumpeter Stéphane Belmondo, the Spanish drummer Jorge Rossy and the Swiss Hungarian contrabassist Tibor Elekes (cb), whereby the American pianist Kirk Lightsey, who has been living in Paris since the beginning of the 1990s, can also be referred to as such. Jean-Claude André (trumpet), Philippe Koerper (saxophone), Andreas Tschopp (trombone), Priscille Blein (flute), Günther Wehinger (flute) and Marc Bätscher (bass clarinet) enrich the light band sound as a veritable wind ensemble. The result touches and goes you directly to your heart. Chansons in her native language with this very special, subtly swinging jazz touch: Elodie Lauton absolutely wanted to try that out. The Swiss pianist Felix Graf composed the arrangements more or less precisely to fit her style, which give the very personal texts of Damia and the voice of the vocalist a distinctive aura.

"I try to understand from where I come, so I know who I am and where I am going,” Elodie Lauton emphasized. "The texts, the words which I interpret, are very important for me. Felix has succeeded in merging jazz with French chansons and a small, traditional wind ensemble, while preserving our musical identity at the same time.” Giving Dalmia’s melodies new life together with the fascinating Kirk Lightsey was incredible fun for her and the whole band. This becomes more than clear after a few seconds in marvelous songs such as “Le Vent Mʼa Dit une Chanson” (The wind told me a story), “Je Voudrais Que La Nuit” (I would like this night) or “Celui Qui sʼen Va” (Whoever goes).

Elodie Lauton comes from Montpellier and has played piano and cello as well as composed since early childhood. She already knew that singing would play a central role in her life when she graduated with a diploma in cello studies when she was 17 and later when she received a Ph.D. in musicology. In other words, another course of study, and this time at Basel Music College. In the Jazz Department there, Susanne Abbuehl initiated her into the secrets of vocal art, and she graduated with a Master’s Degree in 2006. In 2013, Elodie Lauton supplemented her diverse educational qualifications with a CA (French state diploma) as a coordinator for contemporary music.

In addition to her actual career, which exerts considerable influence especially in the border triangle of France, Germany and Switzerland, she now teaches young singers in the categories Jazz, Pop and Rock at the Liestal Regional Music School in Switzerland and at the Académie des Arts Huningue in France. In addition, Elodie Lauton also dedicates herself passionately to the health and therapeutic aspects of singing and breathing.

Stéphane Belmondo (tr)
Kirk Lightsey (p)
Tibor Elekes (cb)
Jorge Rossy (dr)

Additional Horns:
Jean-Claude André (tr)
Philippe Koerper (sax)
Andreas Tschopp (trb)
Priscille Blein (fl)
Günther Wehinger (fl)
Marc Bätscher (bcl)

1 Dis-moi pourquoi ? introduction  01:02
2 J?ai perdu ma jeunesse  05:55
3 Tout le jour, toute la nuit  05:46
4 Le vent m?a dit une chanson  06:21
5 Celui qui s?en va  06:27
6 J?ai rêvé cette nuit  05:19
7 Sombre dimanche  05:26
8 On ne lutte pas contre l?amour  05:56
9 Depuis que les bals sont fermés  05:02
10 Je voudrais que la nuit  03:40
11 Dis-moi pourquoi  04:02