There was already something gloriously hyperactive about the music of Max Andrzejewski. His quartet, Hütte, creates music that is varying degrees of modern post-bop, indie-rock and theatrical soundtrack. On his new release Hütte und Chor, Andrzejewski goes a step further and adds a vocal quintet, each a soloist in their own right and each proving it in their own way… individuals doing their own thing that just so happens to amount to a cohesive expression.
Adding gospel and operatic elements to music already in possession of an abounding personality, Andrzejewski takes advantage of the new sonic ingredients without materially changing the heart of the music that led to his successful previous release, 2012’s Hütte. Songs with a serious geometry are provided a healthy sense of humor, and melodies that refuse to sit still are corralled by rhythms that move just a little bit quicker.
For instance, “Countrygirl” offers up some twang and rockabilly rhythms. Of especial appeal is how the choir matches the cadence, slipping in a little harmonization, erupting with some wild shouts. It leads in nicely to the gentle sway of “Gospel,” a slow dance saxophone tune interspersed with soft waves of vocal cooing. It’s a different kind of scene with the stumbling, tumbling, flailing of “Austria Nervös.”
Arguably, the diamond amongst this album of little gems is “Presque Isle,” in which the quartet and vocal choir achieve an ambling tunefulness that is equal parts charm and challenge. There is nothing straight-forward about the song’s odd melodic angles and shifting tempos, and yet it presents itself with the disarming presence of a friendly smile.
“Bändigung” scoots along with a rock ‘n roll demeanor, whereas “Ziegenproblem” is a post-bop by free association. “Auf dieser Ebene” is all about the vocal aeronautics, and an interesting counterpart to the interludes of vocal theater that mark this unconventional recording. Like bits of German opera as flash fiction in the midst of a modern jazz recording, the quintet of soloists deliver their lines with the same whimsy and fearless abandon as do the instrumentalists on the other album tracks.
Bringing the album to a close is “Memo!” with its untamed enthusiasm of a free jazz song performed at a pep rally, whereas album finale “Für Ali A.” is the solemn, but comforting tones of the descending night, a fond farewell and a curtain drop.
There is something admirably courageous about this unconventional, daringly creative project.
Your album personnel: Max Andrzejewski (drums), Johannes Schleiermacher (tenor sax), Tobias Hoffmann (guitar), Andreas Lang (bass), and Friederike Merz, Sarah Whitteron, Zola Mennenöh, Laura Winkler, Tobias Christl (voices).
Released on Traumton Records.
Jazz from the Berlin scene.