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Zeitkratzer is as always good for a surprise and finally goes Jazz! Looking at the line-up of the “modern composition supergroup” (The Wire) it seems astonishing that it took so long. Saxophonists Frank Gratkowski and Hayden Chisholm both won independently the German Radio SWR Jazz award; the French horn virtuoso Hild Sofie Tafjord grew up with Jazz, as her father and uncle are members of the famous Norwegian jazz group Brazz Brothers; Hilary Jeffery toured with numerous jazz musicians, as did the drummer Maurice de Martin who spent his early years in the New York downtown scene; Reinhold Friedl studied piano with Alexander von Schlippenbach, and Ulrich Phillipp is a known improviser who toured with Charles Gayle… and Zeitkratzer is joined by a second bass player: Martin Heinze, member of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra.
The idea for “Shape of Jazz To Come” arose when Zeitkratzer met the outstanding Swedish singer Mariam Wallentin at a festival in France. Her strikingly flexible voice is so emotional, and her musicality and technical skills are overwhelming: it perfectly joins Zeitkratzer’s sound and contributes extensive solos. Wallentin is most known for her solo and duo projects Mariam the Believer and Wildbirds & Peacedrums but also as a Jazz musician: she is a member of Mats Gustafsson’s Fire! Orchestra and has previously been awarded the Swedish Jazz Prize.
Zeitkratzer & Mariam Wallentin together present a tribute to great Jazz musicians from Sweet Emma Barrett to Muhal Richard Abrams. Zeitkratzer’s most diverse sound and noise experiences from their projects with Maerzbow to Xenakis, Stockhausen to Lou Reed, Keiji Haino to Terje Rypdal are now confronted with Jazz: a tribute to the good old harsh and dirty jazz & blues sound! Culture.pl wrote: “Beauty is not only calmness, trance, meditation. Its other dimension is shown by Mariam Wallentin and Zeitkratzer!”
The release opens with Muhal Richard Abrams’s incredible Bird Song, one of the rare Jazz compositions including live-electronics (Reinhold Friedl, Zeitkratzer’s director, just curated the vinyl release “Richard Muhal Abrams – Celestial Birds”, presenting electronic works by Abrams on Karlrecords): Jazz as avant-garde composition! Bird Song sounds like real Zeitkratzer: raw, direct, urgent, the sounds mirrored on a huge hall plate. Struttin’ with Some Barbecue was composed by Lil Hardin Armstrong, Louis Armstrong’s first wife. It was so successful that he even tried to claim the authorship but lost in court. zeitkratzer and Mariam Wallentin here perform it in a funny contemporary Dixieland version, directly leading to the sad classic Cry Me a River. Crying instruments support Wallentin’s expressive voice. Sweet Emma Barrett’s Jelly Roll Blues becomes as crunchy and brutal as it’s words and message promote: a noise-blues, stomping, atonal, and belligerent. In Strange Fruit, Mariam Wallentin’s voice reflects the brutality and deep sadness, supported by Lisa Marie Landgraf’s bitterly scratching violin solo. Geri Allen’s Drummer Song finally is a fast-forward tribute to modern jazz: small explosions, sophisticated rhythms and licks, improvised group culminations, while My Funny Valentine is tactfully reduced to its famous melody and a chromatic bass line – beauty in calmness… Recorded live at Festival Sacrum Profanum in Krakow, Poland. And for sure: the title is a reference to the famous album by Ornette Coleman. Deep bow!