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Two Sides Of The Trio Coin: Sebastian Liedke and Heniu

Dan Bilawsky By

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These two albums make it abundantly clear that bassist Sebastian Liedke doesn't look at music as a unidirectional art form, and his life experiences likely have a lot to do with his outlook. The young, Berlin-based artist had put his instrument on the back burner while he was gainfully employed as a civil engineer, but lack of enthusiasm for his chosen career helped him find his way back to the bass. This circuitous route to the music camp clearly helped Liedke to understand that finding one's own way and/or diverting from a given course is fine as long it's done with sincerity, conviction and a firm sense of purpose, and these traits ring true on both of these outings.

Sebastian Liedke Trio

Zeitenwende

Self Produced

2011

Liedke's leader debut—To Walk In The Past (Self Produced, 2010)—was a reflection of the present day realities of European jazz piano trio concepts, painted with muted colors that created a pleasant and occasionally cloudy aural aura. The bassist builds on this concept here, but he does so with the help of some new trio mates. Pianist Dirk Flatau and drummer Lizzy Scharnofske shared Liedke's less-is-more mindset on the bassist's earlier outing, but they took a few stylistic detours along the way. Liedke's new companions—pianist Felix Otterbeck and drummer Lucia Martinez—further the notions expressed by their predecessors, but they do so with a more rounded sound, diverse color scheme, and a greater sense of stylistic continuity.

A good deal of this music is based on two-way chemistry, with a third party tracing around the edges, and solos from Liedke and Otterbeck are plentiful, but each track is its own genus within the species of Liedke-made music. "Form Folgt Funktion (fff)" is marked by trim elegance, "Vio"—Otterbeck's ode to his girlfriend—moves from sunny piano positing to a more intense outlook, the title track finds the trio in perfect balance as its three-way communication reaches a peak, and a peaceable, slumbering quality encapsulates the closer ("Sehnsucht"). Liedke's music manages to balance an organic sense of shape and development with a firm sense of stylistic intent, and the more-than-meets-the-ear quality of these songs reward repeated listening.

Heniu

Von Hier Nach Dort

Self Produced

2011

While Liedke is the architectural force behind Zeitenwende, pianist Hans Arnold is the visionary behind this trio outing-of-a-different-sort. Von Hier Nach Dort is a gateway record that could be described as "jazz for people who prefer pop," "instrumental music for people who prefer vocal albums" or "film music that needs no film." Firm forms and shapes, great melodic hooks and catchy riffs underscore this beyond-category release which is built around Wurlitzer piano, bass and drums.

The album-opening "Heimwärts" sounds like is could be a backing tracking for an American radio hit from Five For Fighting, but the follow-up number—an instrumental reverie with warm Wurlitzer work and a pleasing bass melody—is a self-reliant entity. As the album progresses, Heniu hits on drum-driven, energetic fare ("Berlin Phone Call"), material that has a more jazz-oriented intent ("Warten Auf Schnee"), dreary atmospheres with some to-and-fro arco bass in the foreground ("Kissenburg"), music with moody motives ("Späte Stunde"), and noodling that leads to a more structured environment ("Der Lauf Der Dinge"), but the idea is always to create instrumentals with an accessible sound. Drummer Julius Heise often plays the straight man, providing uncomplicated, rock-based time, but it proves to be the perfect foundation for Arnold to build his work around, leaving Liedke free to wear different hats at different times.

While these two trio outings come from different sonic realms and find success through different means, Sebastian Liedke plays a huge role on both discs, as he charts his own path through jazz and the great beyond.

Tracks and Personnel

Zeitenwende

Tracks: Form, Folgt, Funktion; Bastian; Vio; Zeitenwende; Vergiss Mein Nicht; Sehnsucht.

Personnel: Sebastian Liedke: double bass; Lucia Martinez: drums; Felix Otterbeck: piano.

Von Hier Nach Dort

Tracks: Heimwärts; A Farewell; Berlin Phone Call; Warten Auf Schnee; Kissenburg; In Retrospect; Späte Stunde; Der Lauf Der Dinge; Kaffee und Kuchen; Immergrün; Smell Of Hay; Undenlich Weit.

Personnel: Hans Arnold: Wurlitzer piano; Sebastian Liedke: double bass; Julius Heise: drums.

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