It's possible to identify some of the more acoustic elements of the late Esbjorn Svensson
's trio, e.s.t., in Berlin-based, Sebastian Liedke Trio's debut. The bassist's group appears ready to step into a creative breach, uniquely combining a strong sense of melody with imaginative variations. Within its creative process, the trio may be on its way to setting up a template for subsequent hybrids of Euro-jazz. Unlike the pioneering e.s.t., Liedke's trio is devoid of synthesizer effects and rock influences, but combines lyrical elements with extensive variations of sound and tempo, evoking some idiosyncratic abstractions that make To Walk In The Past
an exceptionally pleasing and interesting experience.
Of the disc's ten original tunes, eight were penned by Liedke and two by the trio's pianist, Dirk Flatua. Though the pace is rarely faster than mid-tempo, there is a strong improvisational feel throughout the collection. Individual pieces unfold as a suite, each flowing seamlessly into the next. On "Ella," Flatau's playing is fluid and imaginative, full of intricate beauty. Drummer Lizzy Scharnofske contributes a subtly propulsive beat and rhythmic variety, while Liedke's finely nuanced playing weaves the piece together. The most up-tempo piece in the collection, "Hallo Frau Winter" is in the bop tradition, though distinctly modern. Scharnofske rides the symbols perfectly, and Liedke, whose group is quite egalitarian, has his first chance to really show a capacity to improvise over Flatua's complex chords.
"Flus Im Kopf" is a bluesy romp that features Flatua's appealing down-tempo boogie. Scharnofske's strong rhythmic support shifts the tempo up briefly, and Liedke's contribution is both nimble and controlled. The title track creates a poignant atmosphere accentuated by a beautiful solo from Liedke, whose playing is reminiscent of fellow German, Eberhard Weber
. Flatua's influences, in this case, appear more in the classical vein and the overall effect is memorable. "Ein Stuck Berlin" closes the set with a slightly quirky feel, full of rests that accentuate Flatua's expressive performance and with Liedke reaching down for deep resonant notes. The group interplay makes for an organic hum that underscores the piece's main premise, and it is this movable force of attributes that become a kind of secondary theme and centralize the various aspects of the work.
There is an overall European sensitivity throughout the collection, and the influences of Bobo Stenson
and Arild Andersen
can be felt from time to time. Classical inspiration and unobtrusive themes counter an inventive spirit and a progressive trajectory. In contrast to the kind of naturally occurring minimalist caution that exists in some of Euro-Jazz, Liedke and Flatua's compositions are both harmonious and multilayered, adding depth to seemingly uncomplicated structures. That To Walk In The Past
experiments without being inaccessible, is enough to warrant commendation, but there is much more. Liedke is retaining the jazz tradition while offering a very fresh approach to the formand an ethereal quality to the music.