2020 WhyPlayJazz (WPJ049), CD + MP3 Album Download
Herb Robertson (trumpet, cornet), Helen Bledsoe (bass flute, alto flute, flute, piccolo), Frank Gratkowski (alto saxophone, bass clarinet, clarinet), Holger Werner (clarinet), Stefan Schultze (prepared piano, piano), Robert Landfermann (double bass), John Schröder (drums)
All compositions by Stefan Schultze. Recorded 22nd & 23rd of September 2013 by Christian Heck at Loft, Cologne, Germany. Mixed and mastered by Christian Heck at tonart studio, Kerpen-Horrem, Germany.
This is not just another band. It is a thoughtful, well-balanced organism that feeds on and illuminates the expansive ideas of band leader Stefan Schultze. Schultze thinks in larger formats without being restricted to the traditions and boundaries of the genre. The results: a carefully planned multi-dimensional performance played by hand-picked interpreters. “With this septet, the music is exactly as it should be,” says Stefan Schultze. Every nuanced detail of this astonishing music confers that seeming inevitability.
Because Scultze often begins composing only after he has assembled the band members, the music develops a special sort of magic. Stefan Schultze was once again able to synthesize the two souls close to his heart during these septet appearances recorded live in Cologne some seven years ago. Although he was dealing with a larger group, Schultze was still able to control the events from his position at the piano. In this way he partakes in the joy of ensemble playing and soloing instead of having to stand in front conducting the musicians. This time, the reeds dominate the brass section; thus, Schultze creates a more intricate sound without losing any of its force. The flute and clarinet colors of Helen Bledsoe, Holger Werner and Frank Gratkowski communicate with the unpredictable, impressive trumpet improvisations by Herb Robertson. In addition, bassist Robert Landfermann and drummer John Schröder provide a rock-solid foundation with resilience and imagination. This music shines with urgent sensuality; it exudes an enthralling diversity of influences from a potpourri of musical genres. This required musicians who would be able to bring genre-spanning playing experiences and a dazzling variety of unusual tonal colors. At times thrilling, at times contemplative, there are moments of furious brass outbursts, and moments of seemingly freeform explosions that threaten to break all bounds, as this “small big band” crosses through an immense spectrum of possibilities. Alto saxophone, trumpet, flutes, clarinets – the instruments occasionally playing at the depths of their range – prepared piano, drums played with pinpoint precision, a double bass full of dark secrets, and solos that resonate with a palpable emotional intensity: they all add up to the brilliant results that are greater than their individual parts.