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Jazzahead! 2017

Henning Bolte By

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All groups operated on a fairly high level but could it be pure coincidence that the two female lead, highly integrated units were clearly the most remarkable, captivating and incisive ones? Howsoever these two women being of different age and personality were distinguishing for different reasons. Hülsmann is an accomplished musician relying on a through and through developed, deeply interconnected unit whereas Klesse is an astonishingly burning up-and-coming musician.


Hülsmann has made a strong mark with her albums on the ECM label, amongst others with her trio augmented by British trumpet ace Tom Arthurs and for the Kurt Weill album Clear Midnight (2015) also by German-American vocalist extraordinaire Theo Bleckmann. Hülsmann's music blends the constructivist with the ethereal. With intriguing harmonic figures, and a never too emphatic timbre, her pianism has the effect of lightly dancing above the firm ground of Marc Muellbauer's stoic and sovereign bass and Heinrich Köbberling's playful tidal drum work. Her music is rather sparing, essential and of understated clarity rather than abundant.

With the work on her newest album Soon And Later Hülsmann is back in the deep mold she carved with her trio through the years. Her clear light strokes true to the sound and the almost autonomously spreading of her lines effortlessly took space and time during the 30 minutes of the showcase indicating which blossoming would be possible in a longer stretch. She apparently reached a higher level in the expression of her and her trio's very own approach.


Drummer Klesse, who is from the youngest generation, has a different temperament. She is a humble and passionate musician underpinned by a good portion of challenging humor. It allows her to easily move to and fro between interior and exterior, between leading and following, between empathy and directing. It allows her to come up with extraordinary flowing drum work and distinctive dynamics of a kind -both highly captivating and enjoyable. The four musicians, Klesse, saxophonist Evgeny Ring, pianist Philip Frischkorn and bassist Robert Lucaciu are on a par with each other in the group. Mutual understanding, give and take and engagement in terms of surrendering to the music and serve the music are highly developed in the group. There's a special potential to spark the best in every musician resulting in fantastic timing and dosing. (Good) music lives by creative ways of unifying, reconciling opposites. Klesse—like Hülsmann—has her very own, strong way into that in her/the group's music (making). Especially subtleness and compactness are unified in a highly consistent and distinctive way. Klesse and her group also have a high degree of emergence in their music (making), another indispensable ingredient of good music. It is also called momentum and it means that the listener gets the idea that not a piece of music is played bit by bit but that the music itself is taking its route in the performance, emerge from one moment to another on its own, unfolds as if it's the first time it is happening.

The other groups

As already stated all groups operated at a high standard within clear formats. The quintet of young saxophonist Nico Lohmann combines a lot of jazz core virtues. The two horns frontline (Nico Lohmann and Brigitta Flick) sang wonderfully, the timing, turns and breaks were excellent, all driven by the first class rhythm tandem of bassist Marc Muellbauer (again) and drummer Tobias Backhaus, which resulted in marvelously flying dynamics. In short, it sounded fresh and everything a good old jazz connoisseur appreciates was there. The presentation was quite dull, but for that very reason allowed to fully focus on the flow of the music. It was music that belongs into the same excellent and appealing retro category as Teddy's Westcoasters of Finnish drummer extraordinaire Teppo Mäkynnen or the work of Danish drummer Snorre Kirk.

Young talent Lorenz Kellhuber engaged in a multitude of rich and highly virtuosic piano excursions, springing from seemingly inexhaustible effervescent sources. He consequently drifted away repeatedly without strengthening deeper connectedness with the trio and the audience. And, the abysses and the bad, wicked wolf never showed up during his wanderings.


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