Exactly two years ago, the Eva Klesse Quartet released their second album Obenland, establishing its status on the European jazz scene. Excellent reviews followed, as well as invitations to festivals and international concert tours, which took the band to Asia and Central and South America. JazzThing described Obenland as «wild, romantic, elegiac and tantalising,» while the Weser Kurier picked up on the band’s «impressively precise interaction». The FAZ wrote: «The pieces develop fluently, and typical boundaries between composition and improvisation blur imperceptibly. The Eva Klesse Quartet’s jazz is rich in interesting melodies and harmonies, attracting different kinds of listeners, yet is far removed from the mainstream.»
And now begins the third chapter in this artistic success story: miniature - ten songs for chamber jazz quartet. The title of the new album indicates the band’s aesthetic direction this time. While Obenland captivated the listener with its extended tracks and featured sweeping dynamics and wide arcs, the new album is more intimate and reduced. What has not changed, however, is the impelling interaction of different approaches to playing and the members’ different characters, which add significantly to the quartet’s appeal. The fellow performers attentively listen and give space to each other while showing a keen intuition for storytelling without words.
«The music on the album is more condensed and our improvisations are more interleaved with the compositions,» pianist Philip Frischkorn says. Eva Klesse continues: «This time our idea was to paint more concrete pictures. It was about being able to allow minimalism and peace.» The listener could and should read this as a commentary on social norms that give those with the loudest voice and whose rage goes unchecked the upper hand. Nevertheless, the band is primarily interested in an artistic statement. Ultimately, jazz musicians do not always find it easy to allow minimalism. Philip Frischkorn, who has always leaned towards classicism and classical modernism, has set new parameters which he himself moves within. «This autumn I’ve been experimenting with deciding on
the tonal material first before I start composing. Within strict limits, I wanted to look for opportunities of improvisational freedom. As an improviser you don’t break the boundaries: you gently convert them.» It is no wonder that Frischkorn’s individual scales sound livelier and much less strict than historical concepts of reduction, such as serial or twelve-tone music.
The composers’ personal approaches – Evgeny Ring and Eva Klesse have also written pieces besides Frischkorn – are quite different, which greatly adds to the album’s subtle tension. Some pieces also develop surprising dynamics. As in the first section of Frischkorn’s almost impressionist «M.’s Dreaming», for example, whose subdued mood changes abruptly after a long time. Ring’s «ORM» fuses fast piano arpeggios, rhythmic eddies and distinctive saxophone phrasing to culminate in an impressive force, bringing to life the underlying philosophical concept of pervasive creative energy.
Klesse’s pieces, which often figure as songs without words, reflect concrete life situations. «Back and forth», which oscillates between hectic, surging urgency and sections of waiting, was written some time ago when Klesse commuted between New York and Germany. «It also fits into the last one and a half years of our band’s history, when we travelled incredibly far on our tours, and went halfway around the world,» says the drummer. «It’s about the crazy aspects of travelling – like spending more than 20 hours at a time on aeroplanes and at airports in 30-degree temperatures and all kinds of time differences.» A touch of melancholy frequently runs through Klesse’s music, as in the lyrical «ballad on two legs», on which Robert Lucaciu’s fine bow work stands out. Or the latently mysterious, overwhelming, swelling «Gravity,» written by Klesse on a New York day «when gravity felt particularly oppressive.» By contrast, «Still Enough» is inspired by a Patrick Bruel story. «I’m a big fan of melancholic French music, explains Klesse. Her «Irish travel curse», on the other hand, sounds very different. It is by no means directed against the Irish themselves, but is rather an abstract interpretation of a popular Irish travel blessing, turned wittily on its head. Offensive and snappy, it is a strong challenge to those few people whom one does not wish to bless. The thoughtful, almost requiem-like «And This Will Be» picks up on something Leonard Bernstein said after J.F. Kennedy’s assassination: «This will be our reply to violence: to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before». The quartet would like to follow this idea without holding it up boldly as a banner. «We are politically-minded people, but the record is not a manifesto.»
Miniatures was recorded in Cologne’s «Loft», whose studio guaranteed an intimate atmosphere. On the first evening, the quartet recorded a concert, from which «Gravity» was transferred straight to the record; the rest of the album was recorded the following day, piece by piece, without an audience but played live. The band is palpably more attuned and coordinated than ever before.
In spring 2018 Eva Klesse was appointed professor of jazz percussion at the Hanover University of Music, Drama and Media; and in 2017, she was awarded the Westphalian Jazz Prize. The jury wrote: «Klesse’s dynamic style of playing is impressive; she is skilled in producing the finest nuances and softest sounds. [...] She is creative artist with a recognizable signature and at the same time, a congenial partner.»
The characteristic sound of the Eva Klesse Quartet on miniatures is more detailed and transparent than ever. Many subtleties of chamber music, clear or cleverly forking compositions and balanced improvisations make 50 minutes pass quickly. Conceptual ideas and the resulting focus show the ensemble’s convincing artistic development. The band’s depth of expression produces a musical narrative that can confidently exist in an international environment. Such music will delight not only long-time followers of jazz, but also recruit new aficionados in the future.
CD-Release Oktober 2018 «miniatures» Eva Klesse Quartett
jazzahead! 2017 – Eva Klesse Quartett
Obenland – Eva Klesse Quartett
Kleine None, große Reise – Live at Jazz-Schmiede Düsseldorf, Eva Klesse Quartett
Eva Klesse Quartett – Konzertdaten
ECHO JAZZ 2015 (Newcomer des Jahres)
WESTFALEN JAZZPREISES 2017