Laura Winkler & Wabi-Sabi Orchestra: Paper Clips: Release Information
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Release Date: 04.04.2014
TT Catalogue No: 4602
Laura Winkler & Wabi-Sabi Orchestra - Paper Clips
Highly ambitioned large ensembles aren’t exactly scarce in the German jazz-landscape. Unfortunately only a few big bands succeed in adding new colors to the jazz of our times or in adjusting to current listening desires. The young Berlin-based singer and composer Laura Winkler and her Wabi-Sabi Orchestra are now finding a whole new approach.
When she describes the music of her first CD “Paper Clips”, Laura Winkler avoids the term big band. This is not because she wanted to distance herself from conventional jazz orchestras, but because the portfolio of the Wabi-Sabi Orchestra is far bigger. The range goes from chamber-musical structures to precisely devised voice-formations, for which the instrumentation has supporting character in the background at most, and all the way to juicy jazz arrangements. The classically blaring horn section does not appear on this album though.
The beginning of this project was a Master’s thesis of Laura Winkler, which was supervised by John Hollenbeck. The American drummer, who has long set up camp in Berlin, has gathered ample experience with large ensembles like the Jazz Big Band Graz, the Village Vanguard Orchestra or Bob Brookmeyer’s New Art Orchestra. There couldn’t have been any better recommendation for the singer, because it was clear from the start for Laura Winkler, that she wanted to look for new colors and new possible combinations for a large group. As if a natural conjunction of the contemporary possibilities of voice and jazz-orchestra wasn’t challenge enough, she also integrated violin and viola into her concept. Thereby she concerned herself much less with a continuous band-sound, than with the numerous opportunities of encounters that result from this constellation.
The Wabi-Sabi Orchestra seems like a large intersection in the middle of a large city, on which innumerous voices of different tongues meet and in dialog unleash new images, thoughts and ideas. At first the total topview onto the crossing is given, but quickly the ultimate sound dissolves into numerous episodes. Each and every one of these encounters has its time and then gets replaced by another occurrence. There are no solos in the typical sense, only at times a certain personality or grouping comes more into the foreground. A very busy image results from all these voices, which still, however, condenses into a strong narrative thread.
The main inspiration and starting point for Laura Winkler were the texts of the Japanese novel writer Haruki Murakami. She delved deeply into the balancing and at the same time unsettling language of the master storyteller, analyzed single words and word combinations, read forms out of the words, searched for adequate sounds and found them. In this way she extracted the lightness and heaviness from Marukami’s texts and translated them to pure emotion. She mixed her affinity towards the epic, stemming from previous work with big bands, with a new commitment to the spartanly basic. Every piece stands for a different aesthetic standard.
This great openness and mobility become especially noticeable in the use of Laura Winkler’s own voice. At times, the human voice in its thousand facets is the undisputed main instrument of the band, like in “Dance 1” and “Dance 2”. In many other pieces though, it is only one among the many timbres. The bandleader also appears as a vocalist throughout the album, but primarily fills the role of the composer, who knows well how to budget her capital and places no element of design over the others. The question, what serves the lyrics best, was always the main focus of the work.
Without exception, the musicians with whom she surrounds herself on “Paper Clips” are protagonists of the young and very young Berlin scene. A few among them, like the promising Icelandic guitarist Daniel Bödvarsson or the drummer Tilo Weber, already proclaimed as the great white hope, haven’t even finished their studies at the “Jazzinstitut Berlin”. Others like saxophonist Kati Brien, baritone saxophonist Viktor Wolf or vibraphonist Raphael Meinhart, are currently in the process of making themselves essential to the young Berlin jazz-scene. The oldest hand of the herd is the bassist Oliver Potratz, who has already made a name for himself playing with Daniel Erdmann, Arne Jansen, Kalle Kalima and Carsten Daerr.
Laura Winkler’s finely nuanced music is coherent down to the last detail. Only the band name seems to be sort of a discrepancy to the cleverly devised concept. Wabi-Sabi sounds like razzmatazz or similarly fleeting party amusements, which are not served by Laura Winkler’s profound and acutely reflected music. But the phonetic appearance is deceiving. Wabi Sabi is Japanese and means something like “the beauty of the frugal”. Laura Winkler carried this motto in herself for a long time and on “Paper Clips” she finally finds the possibility to implement this maxim.