404

Wolfgang Haffner: Acoustic Shapes

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
Wolfgang Haffner: Acoustic Shapes There are those who view the blending of electronica textures and rhythms with jazz is akin to the coming of the Antichrist but, like it or not, it's an increasingly pervasive component of modern jazz. In North America, artists including Wallace Roney, Dave Douglas and Mike Mainieri have been incorporating sampling, turntables and real-time sonic processing with great success. Even more popular in Europe, with artists including Nils Petter Molvaer, Eivind Aarset and Bugge Wesseltoft regularly pushing the envelope, jazz is moving toward exciting new places, and attracting a much-needed younger demographic without sacrificing anything in the way of substance.



Wolfgang Haffner has been stylistically cross-pollinating for two decades, but it was with Shapes (ACT, 2006) that the German drummer threw his hat more decidedly into the electronica ring. An in-demand player with significant international exposure through his work with Klaus Doldinger's Passport, the transatlantic collective Metro, and trombonist Nils Landgren's Funk Unit, it was a planned 2007 Funk Unit tour, when original opening act Ida Sand backed out and Landgren asked the drummer to put together an opening act, that Haffner recognized the potential for reworking the music of Shapes for an entirely different setting. Recruiting pianist Hubert Nuss and bassist Lars Danielson, Haffner rearranged seven of Shapes' twelve originals, and added the high velocity swinger, "Star," to round out the fifty-minute program.



Danielsson was, perhaps, the only choice for the bass chair. His discography ranges from the ambitious NuJazz-meets-orchestra of Mélange Bleu (ACT, 2006) to a more intimate acoustic duo with keyboardist Leszek Mozdzer, Pasodoble (ACT, 2007). For his role as featured soloist in the Wagner Reloaded Project performance at Norway's Punktfest 06, Danielsson—a multi-instrumentalist who also plays piano and cello—has evolved a personal approach to bass that rivals Germany's Eberhard Weber in its unmistakable sound. An unshakable rhythmic anchor throughout, he's an equally impressive pizzicato lead voice on the dramatically impressionistic "Crusin," segueing into the melancholy "Some Other Time," where a lush arco delivers its singable theme before being joined by Nuss.



The single biggest impression, when listening to this live recording, is how easily material originally conceived for a far broader soundscape can be reimagined for an acoustic trio, a testament to the concept that good music is where you find it. As a drummer, Haffner is equally comfortable driving the fiery pulse of "24 Hours," first with brushes during Nuss' dexterous and ideationally brim-filled solo, then switching to sticks for Landgren's sole guest appearance, ratcheting up the heat as it morphs into an energetic piece of funk. Haffner solos rarely, but when he does it can be with unrelenting energy at the end of "24 Hours" or focused construction during the considerably more complex "Shapes."



A broad-scoped drummer with rare multidisciplinary compositional skills, Haffner's name has largely been made by the company he's kept. Now, however, with Shapes and Acoustic Shapes, he's proving himself deserving of attention as a leader, a singular talent well worth watching.


Track Listing: Silent Way; Shapes; Faithless; Star; Crusin; Some Other Time; New Life; 24 Hours.

Personnel: Wolfgang Haffner: drums; Hubert Nuss: piano; Lars Danielsson: bass; Nils Landgren: trombone (8).

Title: Acoustic Shapes | Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: ACT Nu Jazz


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Crossing CD/LP/Track Review Crossing
by Geno Thackara
Published: June 25, 2017
Read Unit[e] CD/LP/Track Review Unit[e]
by Karl Ackermann
Published: June 25, 2017
Read Such A Sky CD/LP/Track Review Such A Sky
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: June 25, 2017
Read Buer: Book Of Angels Volume 31 CD/LP/Track Review Buer: Book Of Angels Volume 31
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: June 25, 2017
Read BACHanalia CD/LP/Track Review BACHanalia
by Jack Bowers
Published: June 24, 2017
Read Hallways CD/LP/Track Review Hallways
by Paul Rauch
Published: June 24, 2017
Read "High Time" CD/LP/Track Review High Time
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: April 26, 2017
Read "Earprint" CD/LP/Track Review Earprint
by Jerome Wilson
Published: October 14, 2016
Read "Better By Far" CD/LP/Track Review Better By Far
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: April 17, 2017
Read "Shapes" CD/LP/Track Review Shapes
by Mark Sullivan
Published: September 6, 2016
Read "Confirmation" CD/LP/Track Review Confirmation
by Nicola Negri
Published: September 5, 2016
Read "Kami Fusen" CD/LP/Track Review Kami Fusen
by Glenn Astarita
Published: May 23, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.