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Nils Wogram Septet: Complete Soul

Bruce Lindsay By

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Trombonist and composer Nils Wogram is one of Germany's most imaginative and inventive musicians, a player with over 20 albums to his credit as leader or co-leader with a formidable ability to play across a broad spectrum of styles, from small group improvisation to big bands. He works regularly with his Septet, his Nostalgia Trio, and in duos with trombonist Connie Bauer and pianist Simon Nabatov—past collaborators include trumpeter Cuong Vu. Complete Soul is the Nils Wogram Septet's debut recording, although band members such as baritone saxophonist Steffen Schorn have worked with Wogram in the past.

The idea of a "broad spectrum" also applies to the tunes on Complete Soul, from immediately catchy riffs and grooves to freer, more improvisational numbers. The most obvious member of the first category is the title tune, an upbeat and funky number that favors higher-register instruments such as Claudio Puntin's clarinet and Matthias Schriefl's trumpet, which evoke the atmosphere of a demented and slightly dangerous carnival. "Song For Ahmed" also falls into this category—Wogram switches to melodica and seizes the chance to trade lines with Puntin.

In the second camp are tunes such as the slow, mystical, "Varunaprya" and the brighter, though mysterious, "Zuerihorn." Indeed, while Wogram and his bandmates are fond of using their instruments to mimic laughter or animal sounds and groove-oriented tunes offer plenty of opportunity for dancing along; these tunes often conjure up a more disconcerting atmosphere.

Wogram composed all of the tunes on Complete Soul. The sound mixes his early influences—key American players such as trombonists Curtis Fuller and Jack Teagarden—with later and more disparate influences such as saxophonist Tim Berne, Radiohead and East European folk music. The results are intriguing and engaging.

Track Listing: Complete Soul; Varunaprya; Karnakangi; Song For Ahmed; Weakness Is Your Friend; Motivation; Zuerihorn; External Wind.

Personnel: Nils Wogram: trombone, melodic; Claudio Puntin: clarinet; Matthias Schriefl: trumpet; Frank Speer: alto saxophone; Tilman Ehrhorn: tenor saxophone; Steffen Schorn: baritone saxophone, bass clarinet; John Schröder drums.

Title: Complete Soul | Year Released: 2012 | Record Label: Nwog Records


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