Claude Debussy - Blank Page - New Impressions on Debussy
Florian Dohrmann - double bass/moderation
Christoph Neuhaus - guitar
Joachim Staudt - alto sax/bass clarinet
Lars Binder - drums
The tracks sound mature, the components of the music seem balanced. Rhythm, harmony and melody appear as a cohesive unit, presented in the narrative art of playing ballads. The subtitle indicates an exploration of the impressionist Claude Debussy. How might that sound in the language of jazz? An exciting undertaking.
The guitar opens with restrained chords. The bass clarinet immediately takes over with an extended solo: wide lines, stringently built-up tone sequences, all blown with the warmth of the deep woodwind instrument. Unimaginable that such music could not please. Meanwhile, the other participants provide the harmonic basis as well as the rhythm. Now it is the turn of a guitar solo to make its contribution to the embellishment of the theme. The bass of Florian Dohrman creates quiet figures, not rushing, but restrainedly driving. The pauses between the individual notes are very consciously integrated into his playing: fewer notes of the bass are often more - Charlie Haden perfectly demonstrated this. Close interplay with the drums expands the scope for the soloists. Again, Joachim Staudt's bass clarinet can be listened to: pleasing sequences, rounded lines, a soothing sound to revel in the beauty of the music.
Clair de Lune
Deeply layered sounds, ballad-like motifs lead into the theme. These are the singing soundscapes of the bass violin, almost indispensable for storytelling. The alto saxophone continues, draws its loops until the sound of the title theme. Now harmonic soundscapes resound, inviting the listener to calmly linger. Soloistic runs of the guitar by Christoph Neuhaus complement the theme. The whole quartet is characterized by sovereign as well as sensitive playing: Savoring melodies without giving up rhythmic drive and harmonic balance. Debussy could have enjoyed his Clair de Lune in such a way - impressionistic soul affinity.
La fille aux cheveux de lin
This composition sounds similarly balladic. Guitar solos, subtle bass, decent drums and saxophone deliver a style of playing that may appeal, create a mature sound.
The rhythm here is different from the epic ballads. Walking bass figures and distinctive guitar chords kick things off. A touch of Caribbean flair, spiced with a slap of funky beat rhythmically enrich the accented track. Restrained drumming by Lars Binder, who here - as in the other tracks - always plays with great feeling for themes and improvised parts. His differentiated drumming is committed to the "impressionistic" claim of the album. Guitar and alto saxophone sound in unison. The sax then expands the theme with clearly structured sequences, while the guitar lets its tones flow in, sometimes as a pointed chord, sometimes fingered soloistically. Now Florian Dohrmann shows what's in the body of his ancient double bass, what's in the fingers, and what's in the figures inspired by the theme, which want to express themselves as "impressionistic" jazz - quite expressively.
The title gives it away. Pagoda Dream is also a poignant ballad in which stories are told. The long solos of Joachim Staudt's alto saxophone are ideally suited for this. His sax blows motifs and figures with Far Eastern intonation, giving a touch of meditation as well as a feeling of happiness.
Text: Cosmo Scharmer