Zodiak Trio: Q-Train: Release Information
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Release Date: 23.04.2010
TT Catalogue No: 4538
Zodiak Trio - Q-Train
Every single note is gold. Are there any jazz records that can fulfill such a claim? Is Zodiak Trio’s second album even jazz at all? The lineup of trumpet, guitar, and drums would lead one to think so, and it certainly wouldn’t be wrong to place the trio’s music in the immediate vacinity thereof. If, however, you really get immersed in this band’s rugged sound architecture, you’ll find just as much that is jazz-like as jazz-alien. There is improvisation here, not only with notes and themes, but with sounds and densities, states of matter from solid, to liquid, to gas, to gold. Most unusual are the shortcuts they take to get down to the nitty gritty. From jazz to rock and back again you don’t have to take detours over those worn out and bumpy old jazz-rock roads. The Zodiak Trio finds exactly the right note for a new decade still in search of its sound identity.
Three musicians who were searching for, and found each other. Their functions are, of course, clearly divided between trumpeter John-Dennis Renken, guitarist Andreas Wahl and drummer Bernd Oezsevim, and yet their intentions are so intermeshed that they hardly seem to be a collective, but much more a six-handed individual. The sound varies from powerfully compact to associatively open. In this combination, there doesn’t seem to be anything that doesn’t work, or anything that’s too far-out. When Renken goes into the studio with his compositions, the ideas are always pretty much staked out, but as soon as he tries them out with the trio, the three musicians, along with their illustrious backgrounds, are immediately pulled into a completely different direction.
The openness we‘re talking about here however, at no time leads to randomness. You only need to hear a few measures of a song by this band to immediately recognise it as the Zodiak Trio. Between edgy noise and articulate romanticism, they have found their very own signature. In the bigger picture there are, of course, style-related bands, like Naked City, Jim Black’s AlasNoExit or Hilmar Jenssons TYFT. The lineup also unquestionably reminds you of the Tiny Bell Trio with Dave Douglas, Brad Shepik and Jim Black, but looked at under a microscope, there just is no formation that sounds like Zodiak. Their superb sound design between razor-sharp contours and shimmering colorfulness is what makes them so distinctive. The band can waft away, exploding into their themes, and never lose the overview. No note, no measure is wasted, every accent is set precisely, every sound is communicated, and everything about this band surges forward in an amazing way. Redundancy is tabu. When everything has been said in a song, it’s over. And if there’s something more to be said about it, it can be said in the next song. This tightening down to the bare essence without sacrificing anything of their poetry and energy is what makes Zodiak so unerringly unique.
"In the course of the years you develop a feeling for not playing too
much", emphasizes John-Dennis Renken. "You often hear bands that
are good, but they play too many solos and don’t really concentrate on
their strengths. We don’t want to scare our listeners away by saturatng
them with too much information." In this way, the Zodiak Trio constantly
maintains a fine balance between intensity and discipline, whereby the cut-off
line between the two principles always takes some surprising turns "The
music and improvisation are always in the foreground for us", continues
Improvisation today can be a lot of things, but especially In jazz, it always
seems to be a synonym for a kit of pre-fab molds that can be assembled semi-spontaneously
according to need. The Zodiak Trio can’t be bothered with such designs.
They shoot from the hip. "Messing around with old licks is just not our
thing. None of us grew up that way or experienced music that way, that improvisation
is characterized by memorizing something and recalling it at the right moment." With
us, improvisation means communicating in the moment. We never know what is
going to happen beforehand."
The location factor remains. Anything that comes out of New York is instantly lauded as authentic; in Germany it’s a little more difficult than that. The Zodiak Trio are among the new local heroes of a pragmatic Ruhr Valley romanticism. Their songs have the inspiring charm of rusty old smelting furnaces and you can hear the industrial culture playing into their pipes, strings, and sticks. Maybe it really is an advantage to be at home far beyond the bastions of high European culture. When you take a walk through the Ruhr Valley, you see extreme opposites - faceless post-war facades beside beautiful historical buildings, or super-modern architecture on industrial backdrops. This is exactly how the Zodiak Trio’s music works. It’s music that cuts its own paths and sets its own standards, and it just doesn’t get any more authentic than that.