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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Wanja Slavin 5tet - Scirocco (Jazzwerkstatt, 2010) ****

By Joe Higham

Here's something to get excited about, and you don't often say that when picking CDs out of a hat blindfolded! This CD came to me as a complete unknown title and group leader - to me at least - and what a great surprise!

There's a lot of fine playing on here just check out the musicians below. You have, along with an excellent rhythm section, combinations/possibilities of sax, clarinets, trumpet, voice, cello, 2 guitars - Wanja Slavin and Karsten Hoschapfel double on sax/clarinet and cello/guitar respectively. This makes for some imaginative orchestrations, combining with the improvised sections and their possibilities also. Wanja Slavin plays burning alto and soprano sax, and some lovely alto clarinet (fans of Sebastian Texier pay attention). Mederic Collignon does his usual vocal theatrics sometimes combining it in the written sections or just as a solo vehicle, and some excellent (pocket) trumpet work as always. Karsten Hochapfel hops between cello and guitar. Add to this the burning rhythm section of Graupe, Landfermann, and Lillinger and you have quite a dynamic band.

The compositions are very creative and well written, or to give a rough image ... Dave Holland and Steve Coleman meet the AACM, mixed with a European individuality. Since various members of the group compose there's a diversity of melodies and yet there's a strong cohesion in the groups playing. The excellent sound of two guitars and the very funky nature of much of this music make - even in the freer moments - for some very enjoyable listening. Crossing many barriers between (almost) rock (tk 2 - Nina Toscane), impro (tk 3 - Bossa), straight ahead swing (tk 7- Bebop), 20th century classical (tk 4 - Tango F), for just a few examples, and of course plenty of jazz!

The album is always interesting and exciting to listen to, covers many bases, and has music on it that you'll want to come back and listen to over and over again. An excellent CD for all those who love their music sophisticated, coming from all directions, and full of joy.

See this video documentary of the group :

Wanja Slavin (Sax, Klarinette), Mederic Collignon (Trp, Voc), Karsten Hochapfel (Cello, Gitarre), Ronny Graupe (Gitarre), Robert Landfermann (Bass), Christian Lillinger (Drums)