Die Enttäuschung

Lavaman
Intakt CD 289

Unfortunately the followers of so-called Classic Jazz are so committed to a limited repertoire repeatedly played in only one manner by recognized song rercreators that they wouldn’t recognize that the ebullient Die Enttäuschung could be ingeniously concocting a new variation of Trad Jazz. Especially with the addition of trombonist Christof Thewes, who can snarl plunger tones with the best, the quintet would be an asset at any Jazz Party. That will never happen of course, precisely because of the quintet`s other capability: its members are constantly seeking new forms of expression.

Sound explorers now clustered in Berlin, Die Enttäuschung`s founding members – trumpeter Axel Dörner, clarinetist Rudi Mahall and bassist Jan Roder – are not only involved in multiple ensembles, but also in the case of the horn player, have evolved novel methods of improvisation alongside the likes of John Butcher and Paul Lovens. Meanwhile new drummer Michael Griener has previously worked in ensemble headed by everyone from Butch Morris to Ulrich Gumpert. Obviously these guys can play anything.

This is demonstrated as early as the second track of 16. After confirming on track one that Chris Barber, Al Hirt or any other Dixielander could be bested with little inconvenience, the quintet’s treatment of “Fälschlich” could come from the Cool Jazz canon, since it includes echoing double bass pops, squeaky reed shrilling and the brass players mingling sharpened grace notes. Overall, although the tracks only run from less than two to seven minutes there’s still plenty of space for individual expression. On “Voraussichtlich” for instance, as Thewes replicates the sonic pressure of a buzz bomb, the other horns push the melody forward while cannily moderating the trombone-created shrapnel sounds. Slowing the tempo, Mahall’s noodling vibrations and Dörner’s flattened expressiveness then create the perfect backdrop on which Thewes recaps the now peanut-butter smooth theme.

Using sticks and/or brushes for maximum effects, Griener drives or responds when needed, only stepping upfront, trading breaks with the others on “Reich durch Jazz”. Meantime, part of the quintet’s definition, whether attaining a Miles Davis-like muted groove on “Jazz als Hobby” or a sliding, seesawing New York City Art Quartet resembling stop-time narrative on “Bulyah-Dath” relates to Roder’s balanced walking bass lines on the former or subterranean plucks which palimpsest-like underline the horn parts as they leak into each other’s expositions on the latter.

Despite elevated ideas, Die Enttäuschung’s watchword is cooperation not challenge, which is best demonstrated on “Ausgekannt”. Here fiery trumpet blasts, explosive contralto clarinet and gliding trombone pumps move from timed call-and-response to unselfconscious swing propelled by cymbal splashes and martial-like drum pacing. With sawing double-bass strokes, capillary brass surges, reed puffs and plunger responses, tracks such as “Das Jan am Stück” may be more dissonant. But the band’s collective strength confirm that while positioned strongly as contemporary improv, its sophisticated execution wouldn’t frighten anyone but the most die-hard Dixielander.

—Ken Waxman

Track Listing: 1. 1. Wer nichts fürth, fürth Fürth 2. Fälschlich 3. Die Wohlgesonnten 4. Voraussichtlich 5. Christian und Isolde 6. Das Jan im Stück 7. Ausgekannt 8. Jazz als Hobby 9. Lavaman 10. Reich durch Pfand 11. Chicoree 12. Unsäglich 13. Reich durch Jazz 14. Bulyah-Dath 15. So tun als ob 16. Das Jan am Stück

Personnel: Axel Dörner (trumpet); Christof Thewes (trombone); Rudi Mahall (clarinet and bass clarinet); Jan Roder (bass) and Michael Griener (drums)