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Live Reviews

European Jazz Jamboree 2009

By Published: November 18, 2009
Kühn shared the frontline with guest clarinetist Fiete Felsch and soprano saxophonist Walter Gauchel, performing almost Rahsaan Roland Kirk-like in their multi-tone configuration, an in essence three-headed horn. The set was tailored to appease to any and all straight-ahead Swing fans in the audience (who may have patiently sat through the more experimental preceding sets), in addition to those with more diverse tastes. Schriefl politely asked to join what in essence became an unplanned jam session on stage, then proceeded to contribute one of the strongest solos, starting muted once again then featuring half-valve Cootie Williams-like embellishments. The birthday boy's interesting selection of "Lover Man" sneaked into the program (even though Goodman evidently only recorded it once, in 1949) and other standards such as "Easy Living," "Falling in Love with Love," "When You Wish Upon A Star" and "Just Friends." The obvious conclusion, "Sing Sing Sing" culminated the concert in a unique, and arguably successful (though a tad loose) rendition. Drummer Lillinger took a single floor tom to the front of the stage and weaved syncopations with NDR drummer Danny Gottlieb who meanwhile maintained the Krupa beat. All in all, probably not what NDR had in mind, but they all seemed good sports about the informal complexion the set suddenly took on, though Lillinger noticeably grew tired of awkwardly bending over his drum and furiously beating out rhythms, which left his contribution more an inconsistent novelty.

Of the two Mingus tributes—by Ulrich Gumpert's Workshop Band and another German collective known as Dok Wallach—the latter, at the smaller upstairs Oval Room space at Babylon Kino won out for its raw energy, originality and interplay. Playing material found on their recently released Live in Lisbon (Jazzwerkstatt), the quartet's nominal leader, Michael Thieke, showcased his reed mastery on "Tijuana Moods Montage" (alto), "Self Portrait in Three Colors" (clarinet), to "Hobo Ho" and "Meditations on Integration" (alto clarinet). Joined by tenor man Daniel Erdmann, bassist John Fink and drummer Köbberling Heinrich, Thieke and company brought more a contemporary energy to the music of Mingus. Heinrich's drumming fused Mingus' Dannie Richmond with the likes of Jim Black, Kenny Wollesen and Joey Baron, and spurred on memorable group improvisations. The theme to "Self Portrait" was supported by a Phillip Glass- esque repetitive arco bass line as if adding a lost chapter of heretofore previously lost, novel even though un- Mingus like, bridge before again returning to the theme. This in a nutshell explained why their tribute to Mingus came off so successfully: while being true to the spirit of the music's composer, Dok Wallach was as true to their own take on Mingus' music, adding to the tradition versus regurgitating it. Certainly a candidate for "Best Tribute Release of the Year."

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