All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

4

NICOLE JO: 20

Ian Patterson By

Sign in to view read count
A most versatile and hard-working musician, Nicole Johänntgen can be heard in a variety of ensembles, embracing elements of India and the Middle East in her ethno-jazz quartet, adopting a contemporary approach to New Orleans jazz as witnessed on the marvellous Henry (Self-Produced, 2017) or tearing it up with guitarist/vocalist Peter Finc in a duo that fuses the languages of pop, rock, jazz, blues and soul to thrilling effect. The German alto saxophonist's longest-standing band, however, is the quartet NICOLE JO, which celebrates its twentieth anniversary with this, its seventh release. Jazz-funk is the predominant currency, with Johänntgen's passionate, soulful playing a constant delight on originals of varying tempo, mood and character.

For the most part these are groove-based tunes, built upon electric bassist Philipp Rehm and drummer Elmar Federkeil's no-nonsense foundation of insistent pulses and unwavering beats. Keyboardist Stefan Johänntgen also plays a predominantly rhythmic role, though comes steaming into his own on "Steve's Organ Groove" -a James Taylor-esque groove-fest of meaty riffs and sinewy solos. It's one of several eminently danceable tunes, along with the head-bobbing "Easy Going—featuring a fine, measured solo from the leader—and the sensuous "Step," which boasts about as sexy a jazz-funk vibe as any out there.

Less steamy, though no less persuasive, is the mellifluous "Peaceful Three," where mellow saxophone gets sympathetic support from dreamy synthesizer, spacious bass lines and Federkeil's blue point steel harp (a cross between a hang and a steel drum) which, when in conjunction with Johänntgen's alto, evokes the atmosphere of the late great Arthur Blythe's percussively nuanced Night Song (Clarity, 1997). More reflective still is the hymnal "Sunday Morning Ceremony"—where the fusion of saxophone and organ hints at European and North American church music -at once sombre and uplifting. The slow-burning ballad "Pearls" unfurls with cinematic élan, guided by Johänntgen's softly lowing alto.

There are few extended fireworks on display though the quartet's playing is no less passionate for that. Instead, the emphasis is placed firmly on collective groove and soulfulness. This duality is encapsulated in the atmospheric set closer "New York Nightlife," which combines synthesizer-driven pulse and the leader's ever-beguiling, gently coursing alto. Brimming with seductive melodies and infectious grooves 20 is a fine document with which to mark NICOLE JO's first two decades together. An early front-runner for jazz-funk/jazz-soul record of the year.

Track Listing: B-Day; Easy Going; Peaceful Three; In Movement; Step; Steve’s Organ Groove; Sunday Morning Ceremony; Kestrel Love; The Mars; Pearls; New York Nightlife.

Personnel: Nicole Johänntgen: alto saxophone; Philipp Rehm: electric bass; Elmar Federkeil: drums, percussion, blue point steel harp; Stefan Johänntgen: keyboards.

Title: 20 | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: Self-Produced

Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

CD/LP/Track Review
  • 20 by Ian Patterson
  • Henry by Rosarita Crisafi
Live Reviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
20

20

Self-Produced
2018

buy
Henry

Henry

Self Produced
2016

buy

Related Articles

Read Uplift The People CD/LP/Track Review
Uplift The People
by John Sharpe
Published: August 21, 2018
Read A New Shade Of Blue CD/LP/Track Review
A New Shade Of Blue
by Chris May
Published: August 21, 2018
Read Rabbits on the Run CD/LP/Track Review
Rabbits on the Run
by Glenn Astarita
Published: August 21, 2018
Read Imaginary Numbers CD/LP/Track Review
Imaginary Numbers
by John Sharpe
Published: August 21, 2018
Read Point Blank CD/LP/Track Review
Point Blank
by Chris May
Published: August 20, 2018
Read Tell Me The Truth CD/LP/Track Review
Tell Me The Truth
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: August 20, 2018
Read "On Air" CD/LP/Track Review On Air
by Doug Collette
Published: December 3, 2017
Read "The Way Home" CD/LP/Track Review The Way Home
by Joe Gatto
Published: November 23, 2017
Read "Agrima" CD/LP/Track Review Agrima
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: October 18, 2017
Read "Lake of Light: Compositions for AquaSonics" CD/LP/Track Review Lake of Light: Compositions for AquaSonics
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: July 2, 2018
Read "Yequm" CD/LP/Track Review Yequm
by Friedrich Kunzmann
Published: December 28, 2017
Read "At Gamut" CD/LP/Track Review At Gamut
by Glenn Astarita
Published: June 4, 2018