WALKING IN THE WIND OR SHADOWS OF BLUE SOUND
Yet another anthology put together by the producer, I hear the critics say. But I can reassure you – this isn’t a contribution made according to the motto: from a flood of CDs to ebbing creativity is not a long way. Grant yourself the time – pour yourself a glass of red wine and make yourself comfortable; because you should allow this album to work on you, so that you can become aware of the abundance of intermediate tones.
You find out pretty soon, that the German pianist Uli Lenz and the French saxophonist sought … and found each other; they chose one of the most difficult disciplines of the genre, the ‘art of duo performance’. If you think about a soprano sax and piano duo, you cannot, of course, by-pass the greatest such duo in jazz history – the Steve Lacy-Mal Waldron-Duo. But for these two musicians, it’s not about conserving that tradition, it’s about bearing the torch onwards in an on-going dialogue with each other.
We can admire the sensitive, supple soprano playing of the Frenchman, performed with a nonchalance born out of the rich harvest of a musician’s career of over five decades in the jazz metropolis of Paris on the one hand; and on the other, the powerful striking of the keys of this German virtuoso on piano – sometimes like a builder, his thundering blues-saturated chords gauging, furrowing through the building site; sometimes like a sculptor, full of dedication to the delicate, ornate melodic details. The astonishing thing is, they’re more than just unity – they permeate each other with their different musical personalities and experience. They take us on a journey through music landscapes that they light up with their sovereignty and precision.
Through Uli Lenz’s woven carpet of sound, the lines of the soprano saxophone wind, with the habitual tristesse of this French neighbour; sometimes with the lightness of the evening breeze that softly caresses the white clouds on the horizon or blows them onwards or sometimes pleasantly cool, but also stringent and fierce, cleaving through the landscape – the dialogue oscillates without a break between structured form and free form, between composition and communication, hard to tell apart- the transitions seem fluid.
The improvisation is in the finest tradition of the Art of the Duo, freedom of form is in both of each others interest. Like someone going for a musical walk; you have the inclination to let yourself go, walking on solid ground, sometimes barefoot, sometimes in robust shoes, but always just drifting. It’s like Walking in the Wind.