Arne Jansen Trio: Younger Than That Now: Release Information
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Release Date: 03.10.2008
TT Catalogue No: 4520
Arne Jansen Trio – Younger Than That Now
Do young, strong musicians need supporting purely by virtue of their age? Berlin Jazz guitarist Arne Jansen proves not. Every German Jazz musician under 45 is lauded for being young, almost as an excuse for a lack of independence. Arne Jansen has no need for such attempts at justification. Aged over 30, he would be considered one of the old guard in the genres of Rock or Pop. Why not apply the same scale to jazz? Arne Jansen is a guitarist who not only knows exactly what he wants to say, but also knows exactly with which means he wants say it. An adventurous Jazz pro who doesn't let routine overrule curiosity, but whose experimentation does not rule out making things straightforward.
The Arne Jansen trio is a meeting point for old friends. Before joining Michael Wollny to form [em] – rightfully acclaimed as a flagship trio of German Jazz – bassist Eva Kruse and drummer Eric Schaefer played with Jansen. Despite being two thirds [em], the Arne Jansen Trio occupies a completely different musical world, which could in short be described as comprising harmony rather than friction. "With the trio, the focus is always music written by me then developed by us together. I do write the pieces, but there's enough space for the others to contribute. It is extremely important to me that everyone finds a part that allows them to connect to something. I want to tease out of Eric and Eva something that only they can offer; something of themselves. At the writing stage I am already looking for something that works for them. In the studio this process continues, and sometimes leads to my ideas in the practice room being turned on their head."
The concept of higher, faster, further, so often heard in Jazz, is not Arne Jansen's thing. It was only when he finished working on "Younger Than That Now" that he noticed his guitar playing would not be an object of wonder on any of the record's pieces. In fact, if one superlative were attributed to the Trio, it would be for excessive understatement. But the music is authentic, and just as compatible to everyday listening as it is to special occasions. Maybe the odd Jazz purist will find the album trivial due to its lack of jazz-wackiness, but Jansen, Schaefer and Kruse can happily live with that. The trio turns instead to more open Jazz listeners, for whom music is more than the confirmation of cemented expectations.
Jansen's greatest strength is the courage to write simple melodies. His pronounced affinity with rock is plain to hear, and many pieces resemble instrumental rock numbers rather than Jazz pieces. Kruse and Schaefer also keep things much straighter than is the case in other formations. So it's hardly surprising to find that a search for adequate candidates within the world of Jazz with which the JansenTrio's music could be compared proves fruitless. Going back, the most appropriate like-minded artists can be found in the Trio Gateway with John Abercrombie, Dave Holland und Jack DeJohnette. Without denying their Jazz background, Gateway invented stylistically neutral instrumental music which, through its incorporation of pieces of Jazz scenery, developed a tension entirely of its own. The same could be said of the Arne Jansen Trio.
Whilst maintaining complete openness stylistically, Arne Jansen has entirely immersed himself in jazz guitar. Mentored by Pat Metheny, Jansen openly states his fanatical veneration of John Scofield, and makes no bones about his respect for Bill Frisell. However, these role models don't have much room on "Younger Than That Now". Much more important to the guitarist are bands and musicians like Radiohead, Joni Mitchell or Bob Dylan, to whom he pays tribute in "Rain On My Carpet". The album title "Younger Than That Now" also goes back to Dylan's "My Back Pages", where he sings, "Oh, I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now". To Jansen, this statement, along with Dylan's whole philosophy, culminates in the maxim: make complex things sound simple. "I used to write very complicated music that nobody wanted to listen to. Some of the pieces on the new album sound very simple, but I've spent a long time working on them and trying to reduce them down to their very core. I learnt from Bob Dylan that often the simplest things have the greatest depth. But this simplicity has to be worked out first".
Another point of reference for Arne Jansen is Japanese writer Haruki Murakami, best known in Germany through books such as "Hardboiled Wonderland and the End of the World", “Kafka on the Shore " or "The Wind-up Bird Chronicle”. He has not only dedicated a track ("The End of the World"); the titles of several pieces can be traced back to Murikami quotes or ideas. The guitarist values the writer's approach: starting with a tiny idea, which creates a mood and nothing more, and on the basis of this then reaching into the unconscious and creating a whole network of relationships. Jansen himself adopts a similar method. In terms of both the album as a whole, and the individual pieces within it, he begins with a musical atmosphere which opens like a bud into a flower. This represents a creative cycle as poetic as it is logical, which listeners with the most diverse preferences can easily adapt to fit their own rhythms.